In agrodolce

Have you all read the most recent Saveur? The feature on cooks in Rome, Eternal Pleasures, makes me want to literally bathe in agrodolce.

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And I’ll admit I came pretty close on Monday. Maiale in agrodolce. Cipolline in agrodolce. Together with some garlicky broccoli. It was pure bliss. Worth running out of the office to go home and make right now. Make some excuse. Tell your boss it’s an emergency. Maybe your kitten is stuck up a tree? It would be worth it, really, if you called your neighbor and asked if they would please stick your kitten (any kitten) up a tree so you could go home. Really.

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Worth it, even, if you don’t think you’re a fan of the sweet and savory combination.  I’ve learned that, in culinary terms, there’s nothing I’m not a fan of — if it’s the right recipe, that is. I mean, I really, really, really dislike foie gras if it’s not done right. But, recently, I licked my foie gras plate clean at Town House in Chilhowie. Oysters will make me gag on most occasions, but I’ve twice gobbled up my fair share, in the Outer Banks, and at Town House, too.  I don’t even like sweet and savory combined in most recipes, and yet here I am, raving about two agrodolce preparations, one for onions, one for pork. Remember when I mentioned that I could bathe in agrodolce? Just ask me if I was kidding.

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The “agro” in both is balsamic vinegar. I used a cheap one, so that it wouldn’t be too sweet on its own. For the onions, the “dolce” is regular white sugar and hydrated raisins; for the pork, it’s honey. Despite the similarities, the two agrodolces have their own flavors. Honey, butter, and rosemary create a round flavor, while the olive oil, sugar and raisins have a sweet tartness. The agrodolce sauce is a bit jumpier on the onions. Perfectly so, especially when you mix just a little bit of it into the honey-butter-rosemary agrodolce marinade you’ve made for the pork.

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You certainly don’t have to make the pork and onions for the same meal, but I thought they worked magic together. Add in this broccoli, and I would say it all works symphonically, if that didn’t risk revealing my extreme dorktitude. But I guess I already did that with the whole bathing in agrodolce thing…

Totally worth it.

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Sweet and Sour Glazed Pork Chops

Printable Recipe

from Saveur Magazine, Issue #128

serves 4

4 10-oz. bone-in pork chops
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1⁄3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. honey
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 sprig fresh rosemary, torn into 1″ pieces

Put pork chops on a plate; drizzle with oil; season generously with salt and pepper; let sit for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium-high heat. Combine vinegar and honey in a 1-qt. saucepan and cook over medium heat until reduced to 1⁄4 cup. Stir in butter and rosemary and set aside.

Put pork chops on grill and cook, occasionally turning and basting with balsamic mixture, until browned and cooked through, 12–14 minutes. Transfer to a platter and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Sweet and Sour Onions

Printable Recipe

from Saveur Magazine, Issue #128

serves 4

1⁄2 cup raisins
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 1⁄2 lbs. cipolline onions, peeled
1⁄4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1⁄2 tbsp. sugar
Kosher salt, to taste

Put raisins into a small bowl; cover with hot water and let soften for 30 minutes.

Heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until golden brown, 8–10 minutes; pour off oil. Drain raisins. Add raisins, vinegar, and sugar and season with salt. Cook, stirring, until sauce thickens, 2–3 minutes.