Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Lemon & Bay Pork Chops with Garlic Scape Pesto

I think by now you may have noticed how skittish I get when foods with particularly short seasons are up for discussion – recall the lack of composure with the wintered-over rabe? Or May and the ramps? Well, on Friday, Berried Treasures was the only greenmarket stand that still had a basket of garlic scapes on display.

True, the beefed-up Saturday market offered scapes from 4 or 5 different vendors. But, as my eyes darted between the ever-larger, ever-tougher, ever-more-strongly-flavored specimens, I sensed that scape season was peaking. And you know what comes next: 11 months with no scapes. So I hope you’ll forgive the repeat mention as kindly as you did with the ramps.

Making scapes into pesto is a fantastic technique for preserving their gorgeous color and flavor for the long months ahead. When raw, the scapes are quite strong, and so you’ll find this recipe calls for a fair amount of pine nuts, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and olive oil – all of which serve the purpose of balancing out their garlicky bite.

After a bit of kind advice from my friend Lenny, who grows his own scapes, I’ve settled on this formula. The further you are into scape season, the more robust your scapes will taste, and the more of the other ingredients you’ll have to use. Just trust your instincts – the resulting pesto is vibrantly green and superb with pasta or roasted meats. And Violet Hill had some lovely big pork chops this week that I knew were up to the job.

You’ll have plenty of leftover pesto here – that’s the point after all. Lenny suggests using ice cube trays to freeze the pesto in manageable portions, which I think is brilliant. Pour a layer of olive oil over each cube and seal each tray tightly. This pesto lasts under a layer of olive oil in the fridge for about 2 weeks. In the U.S., check the Local Harvest Market Finder or look into Edible Communities for scape sources near you. No scapes to be found? Traditional basil pesto makes a lovely companion for this pork too.

Serves 2 plus a big batch of pesto

2 cloves garlic, crushed
zest and juice of 2 lemons
3 ½ - 5 cups extra virgin olive oil
small handful (about 10 sprigs) thyme
4 bay leaves, fresh if possible
freshly ground black pepper
2 large bone-in pork chops
1 pint mixed small heirloom tomatoes

1 lb fresh garlic scapes
1 ¼ cups pine nuts
6 – 8 oz freshly grated parmesan cheese
juice of 1 – 2 lemons
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

1 glass red wine
1 cup beef or chicken stock
2 tsp Dijon mustard

In a large ziplock bag, combine the garlic cloves, lemon zest and juice, and 1 – ½ cups of extra virgin olive oil. Bruise or crush the thyme and bay leaves, add them to the bag, and season generously with black pepper. Swirl the bag to combine the ingredients.

Rinse the pork chops and pat them dry. With a sharp knife, lightly score the chops in a crosshatch pattern on both sides. Add them to the marinade and squeeze out all the air before sealing the bag. Marinate the pork for a couple of hours in the fridge if you can - up to a whole day is fine.

An hour before you plan to begin cooking, remove the pork from the fridge and allow to come up to room temperature (or close at least). Preheat the oven to 425 F.

In a pan or dish that’s safe for oven and stovetop, mix the heirloom tomatoes with a glug of olive oil and sprinkle them with salt. Season the chops generously on both sides with salt, press a bay leaf into each side, and arrange in the pan. Roast in the oven for 35 - 45 minutes.

In the meantime, rinse the scapes well under running water. Snap off and discard their fibrous ends in much the same way as you would with asparagus. Cut the scapes into manageable lengths of 4 – 5 inches.

In a food processor, pulse the pine nuts until roughly chopped. Add the scapes and pulse to a coarse paste – this may take a while, depending on where you are in scape season. Add 6oz of the cheese and the juice of 1 lemon. Season with some salt and pepper. Pulse to combine and then leave the processor on as you stream in 2 cups of olive oil.

Taste the pesto. If the garlic flavor is too sharp for your liking, you may add more cheese, lemon juice, and olive oil to soften the bite. It’s fine if the pesto ends up being quite a loose paste.

When they pork chops are almost as cooked as you'd like them to be, remove to a plate, tent loosely with foil, and rest for 10 minutes. Put the roasted tomatoes in another dish and cover to keep warm.

Place the roasting pan over high heat and reduce the juices the pork and tomatoes have released until thick and syrupy. Remove from the heat and add a glass of red wine. Return to the heat and reduce by half. Be sure to scrape up any caramelized juices from the bottom of the pan. Add the beef stock and reduce again until the pan sauce is thickened. Remove from the heat and whisk in the mustard. Check the seasoning with salt and pepper.

Serve the pork chops alongside the tomatoes. Drizzle the meat with the pan sauce and top with a spoonful of pesto.


Joanne Rendell said...

clever Lenny! and clever you! this looks divine

marisa said...

Looks good Amanda! I'll be making this.

Cynthia said...

Enjoy the season honey, enjoy it!

Wendy said...

Wish I had had this recipe when scapes were in season here. Will keep it on file till next year. :)

Figs Olives Wine said...

Hi Jo! Isn't he clever? Thanks again Lenny! And thank you Jo!

Hi Marisa! Hope you enjoy the pork chops! Let me know.

Hello Cynthia, and thanks for that! I was feeling a bit guilty about the whole thing.

Hi Wendy! I know just how you feel! I'm always seeing things on Australian blogs I'd like to cook - I call it season envy. I guess we're just a little bit behind you on this side of the pond...in a number of ways ; )

Pille said...

Great use of garlic scapes. I've only ever added them to stir-fries and tuna mayonnaise, but will be definitely making some garlicky pesto next time!

Anonymous said...

What a great pesto recipe! And I love the idea of lemon with pork.

Great Big Veg Challenge said...

Wish I could get garlic scapes in the UK..anyone from britain have any ideas?

Figs Olives Wine said...

Hi greatbigveg,
Wendy of A Wee Bit of Cooking might know - though it sounds like scapes are done there in her comment on this post. She's up in Inverness. Her blog is: teach77.wordpress.com

But since you guys are on "L," there might be time to grow your own garlic and cut those scapes. I think it's a pretty quick process, but I could be wrong - I'm pretty sure you can can buy shoots and even grow them in a pot indoors. I don't know if you want to go to such lengths, but let me know what happens either way!

Figs Olives Wine said...

Hi Pille, what a brilliant idea with the tuna! I must try that before they're finished here!

Hi anonymous,
I love lemon with pork, lamb, beef - actually pretty much anything! I hope you enjoy the chops!

winedeb said...

Hi - I found your site via Wendy. Wine was what caught my eye as that is a passion of mine of which I write almost every day. I live most of the year in Key West but am in Ohio right now visiting and totally enjoying our Farmers Market. I discovered garlic scapes a few years ago at our market and every year look forward to the spring harvest. So many different ways to use them!
Cooking is high up on my list of favorite things to do. My son is also a professionally trained chef so the pots and pans do rumble at our house often.
You have a very nice site!

Figs Olives Wine said...

Hi Winedeb and welcome! Key West is incredible - how fabulous. The site is mostly about food, but I do feature wines or liqueurs from time to time (check the Recipe List under "To Drink"), and I have several things in the works right now regarding that. Went to a very interesting wine tasting hosted by Lydia Bastianich of Felidia here in NYC the other night, and there were some truly extraordinary wines. I'm very glad you found Figs Olives Wine through lovely Wendy, and I'll be checking out your site soon! Stay in touch!

annie said...

I have made garlic scape soup, and used them in sauteed vegetable dishes, but the pesto is a) a great new dish and b) one I can freeze and keep long after the scapes are gone. Alas, they have just peaked here in the corn-belt, and I'll have to wait until next year. Thank you for such a lovely blog to look at!

Figs Olives Wine said...

Hi Annie, I wish I could send you some for your freezer! I have enough to fill 50 ice cube trays right now! Soup sounds delicious. I must try that before ours are gone. What do you do for yours? I'd love to hear.
And I totally hear you on the disappointment when a harvest season's over! Restriction and anticipation are a big part of eating seasonally for me, and it's sometimes tough to walk through the supermarket and see all the unlimited options! I totally give in sometimes, but scapes aren't exactly something you see in the A&P.

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