Supper Tonight

This was tonight’s meal.

That’s a brined and grilled pork chop, apple slices, and “spanish risotto”. Well, that’s what I’m calling it, anyway. The white on top is grated monterey jack cheese The drink is my lemonade – 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup lemon juice, a dash of salt, and 2 cups of water.

The apple slices are just that. Oh, I dipped them in my lemonade briefly, but that was to prevent browning. No flavors were exchanged. Oh – it’s a yellow delicious.

The pork chop was brined for about half an hour, set out for five minutes, then grilled for about five minutes on a foreman. The brine was 2 cups of water, a tablespoon of salt, a tablespoon of honey, and a tablespoon of this and that (oregano, paprika, cayenne, thyme, black pepper) plus a small bay leaf and a whole clove. I heated it to lukewarm and stirred so the spices were mixed, added the pork chop and set it aside. (Yes, just one. I could have done two but my wife’s not fond of pork chops.)

The rice risotto is what most of this post is going to be about. Risotto is easy, and you can use pretty much any fluid you want – with some caveats.

Here’s a picture of all the ingredients this used:

In the bowl in the front middle is a mix of all the spices. Now I’m not going to give you measurements but it’s not because it’s a secret. It’s because I’m a cook, not a chef. I start down the list with a couple of sprinkles of that and a shake or two of this and some of the other and, hmm, (sniff, sniff), oh, yeah, forgot that…

Oh, wait. There’s no bay leaf in that picture. I did use one. (and you see what I mean)

Besides the spices there are two cups of broth, a cup of rice, a chopped medium onion, two cloves of garlic (which are going to get minced), a can of green chilis (of which I’ll use half) and a large can of crushed tomatoes. Now usually I use whole but got tired of chopping. Unfortunately I got stupid and got crushed instead of chopped.

See, what happens at this point – after I get all the stuff out of the way – is that I put a little oil in the bottom of the large pan, add the onion, and let it begin to soften. I then drain the tomatoes. The juice goes into the broth, and the severely drained tomatoes are reserved. With crushed, however, separating was extremely difficult and messy. Lesson learned.

So anyway, I’ve got onions softening. I add rice to the onions and start heating the tomato juice and chicken broth mix. All the spices go into the broth. I mash and mince the two garlic cloves. One goes into the rice, one into the liquid. Last but not least half the green chili peppers go into the broth.

About a minute in the rice hints at turning brown. At that point I put a couple of ladles worth of the liquid into the rice, and it looks something like this.

At this point it’s shake it good, push down any rice that’s climbed the sides back into the mix, and stir once in a while. When the liquid appears to be somewhat absorbed, I add another ladle worth and shake and stir a bit. Eventually the rice is done. The shaking and stirring has split off some starch from the rice which thickens the liquid remaining. At this point I toss in the tomatoes (and for timing, this is when the pork chop hits the grill), cook for just a bit longer to thicken the inevitable extra juice that came with the tomatoes, and set it out to serve.

Now in a perfect world I’d have had some diced or chopped bell peppers of various colors going in with the onions. Unfortunately the peppers around here have been unimpressive. I’d also have had a bit of a medium red wine in the liquid. Unfortunately, I’m still having to pinch pennies and that’s what’s being pinched at the moment.

That said, I enjoyed my supper tonight. Spanish rice, risotto style. Grilled Pork chop (brined and seasoned). Apple slices. And a tall cold glass of lemonade.

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