When people ask why I still like to eat at restaurants when we seem to have great food at home everyday, I tell them there are two reasons: variety and inspiration. No matter how well cooked the food at home is, sometimes, I do get bored with my own cooking. Not often but there are moments when I start feeling that I’m cooking the same flavors and textures and I crave for variety.
So, I go to restaurants to pick up new ideas. I order what I fancy, then, when I get home, I deconstruct the dish to make my home cooked version. Better than cookbooks and TV, I tell you, because you actually get to taste the food and experience the textures and aroma.
Today’s lunch which left Speedy drooling was inspired by Cafe Lidia’s Pork Parmigiana.
What exactly is pork a la parmigiana with spaghetti in pomodoro sauce? I know — it’s quite a mouthful to say the name of the dish. But it’s really nothing to be intimidated about.
Parmigiana is an Italian dish, baked and layered, that consists of a lightly fried filling (vegetables or meat), cheese and tomato sauce.
Pomodoro sauce: chunky meatless tomato sauce.
Pork a la parmigiana (the “a la” denotes it isn’t authentic parmegiana as there is no baking involved): lightly-fried pork steaks braised in chunky meatless tomato sauce then smothered with melted parmesan cheese.
Toss cooked spaghetti with the pomodoro sauce, top with pork parmigiana and it’s one heck of a meal.
- about 125 g. of spaghetti, cooked al dente then tossed with 2 tbsps. of butter
one recipe for homemade tomato sauce (try to use the reddest and plumpest tomatoes)
a small bunch of sweet basil leaves, roughly chopped
a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
3 pork steaks (or chops), about 3/4 inch thick, seasoned with salt and pepper and lightly floured
3 tbsps. of olive oil
lots of shaved parmesan cheese
basil chiffonade, for garnish
Make the tomato sauce.
While the tomato sauce simmers, prepare the pork. In another pan, heat the olive oil and lightly brown the pork steaks on both sides.
Transfer the half-cooked pork into the pan with the tomato sauce. Cook over medium-low heat, uncovered (if you put on the lid, the steam will make the pork lose its pan-fried texture) and without flipping, for 15 to 20 minutes or until the sauce is thick and chunky.
If the sauce dries up before the pork is done (likely to happen if the tomatoes weren’t plump and juicy in the first place), add broth, little by little.
If, on the other hand, the sauce is still too thin by the time the pork is done, turn up the heat and cook, uncovered, for about five minutes or until the sauce turns thick and chunky.
Divide the parmesan cheese equally among the pork steaks. Cover the pan, lower the heat and let the steam melt the cheese. It should take just a few minutes.
Using a wide spatula, transfer the pork steaks to a plate.
Into the thick and chunky sauce, add the cooked spaghetti. Toss well.
In individual pasta bowls, make a bed of spaghetti. If bits of tomatoes are left in the pan, scrape them and divide among the bowls.
Top the spaghetti with the pork steaks. Sprinkle with basil chiffonade and serve.
In making the tomato sauce:
Use a wide pan that can hold the pork steaks in a single layer.
Instead of pureeing the tomatoes, roughly chop them into fairly large chunks.
DO NOT add water. Just let the tomatoes liquefy.
Cooking time (duration): 45 minutes
Number of servings (yield): 3
Meal type: supper