Sometimes your cravings take hold of you and nothing will get in the way of satisfying it. That’s how most of my evening meals become a reality. There are too many variables and speed bumps that create detours between the work day and getting home so I am not that cook who works off of a weekly planner. I couldn’t survive on that type of grid. The seeds are planted though with what I already know is sitting in the fridge, like a pack of 1/4-1/2 thick PORK CHOPS. Midday I started thinking about Pork Chops with Vinegar Peppers, one of my favorite ways to prepare pork chops. There are many ways to make this dish, stove top, or in the oven. Nice to have choices! Marinate the chop, or not. Up to you. This dish is one of the most Popular in the Italian-American suite of recipes and it’s an actual dish that is part of Napoletana (from Naples) cuisine. In Naples it’s a heritage dish called Costolette di Maiale con PAPACCELLE. Don’t try to translate PAPACCELLE let me help you out. As will all Italian regions there are languages within the region or province which exist nowhere else. PAPACCELLE is a Napoletana word for a specific type of squat, round, small pepper, very close to a cherry pepper. In Naples they are prized and are generally prepared “SOTT’ACETA or SOTT’OLIO..in Vinegar, or Olive Oil, or a combo of both. The basic Napoletana recipe is simply searing the pork loin chops on the bone (sidebar…please do not ask if you can make this off the bone..ok, you can, but this dish is an on the bone dish, so work with me here!!), add some olive oil, garlic, and a few sliced Vinegar peppers, let it cook till the pork is done. That’s the most basic version and I’ll go out on Campanian limb and say…that’s probably the most authentic. My version is slightly jacked up but I don’t use any wine like many other recipes out there do. It turns the dish into a Scarpariello tasting dish..very good, but the wine sort of steals the thunder from the vinegar. I try to preserve that tang in the dish without the winey boozy flavor Wine or Vermouth would add. Time to come into my kitchen, ANDIAMO!
TIME: 1 HOUR SERVES: 4
4 1/4-1/2 INCH THICK PORK CHOPS ON THE BONE (Loin are great, Rib are better, more fat, more flavor, more interesting flavors on the meat)
2 VINEGAR PEPPERS PROCESSED WITH 1 TBS EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL, 1 SMALL CLOVE OF GARLIC, 1/8 TSP KOSHER SALT, 1/4 TSP PEPERONCINO (DRIED RED CHILE FLAKES) into a paste
2 TBS OLIVE OIL
2 WHOLE CLOVES OF GARLIC
6 VINEGAR PEPPERS, SEEDS AND CORE REMOVED, SLICED OR SIMPLY SLICED
1 CUP of the VINEGAR PEPPER JAR LIQUID OR 1/4 CUP RED WINE VINEGAR
(sidebar…PUT DOWN THAT BOTTLE OF BALSAMIC!! no, you cannot substitute it in this dish. Why? not just because I say so, although in some cases that is good enough, right? But because this is a dish from Naples..not Modena. The cooking styles and products are very different. Balsamic is NOT a substitute for all over Vinegars, it’s it’s own ingredient and it will discolor this dish as well as add a sweetness to it. Now is that a bad thing? No, but then you are making another dish. Let’s stick to this Maiale con Papaccelle dish shall we? Good.)
1 SPRIG FRESH ROSEMARY (not dried, it doesn’t cook long enough to soft those dried Rosemary needles up, and the flavor will be different)
1/2 TSP KOSHER SALT
To start, pat the chops down with a paper towel. Discard (the paper towel…). Rub the chops down with the paste you made with the Vinegar peppers. Place on a plate and loosely cover in a cool dry area and let marinade for 1/2 hour. In a heavy skillet, heat the olive oil and sear the chops for 8 minutes, then turn, and sear for 3 minutes, add the garlic. Let it take on a little color (that little bit of garlic browning is the taste of most Italian American restaurants)) then add the sliced vinegar peppers. Saute’ the peppers for 5 minutes, shaking the pan a few times. Add the Vinegar or the Jar liquid along with the sprig of rosemary. Taste this liquid after you bring it to a boil, then reduce it. See if it needs any more salt. If you are using the jarred liquid I’m going to say NO ADDITIONAL SALT. If not add salt to taste. Let this simmer until most of the liquid is evaporated, maybe 10 minutes. Let this sit in the pan for 5 minutes off the heat before you serve. Now if you cannot find the jarred peppers here’s a solution…Find some sweet cherry peppers, or Cubanelle (Italian Frying Peppers), Seed them and slice them (maybe 6) and boil in Red wine vinegar and a little water until tender. Add a pinch of salt. Let them sit in that hot brew for 2 hours. Then use them as the recipe instructs you to as if you were using the jarred peppers. Use that liquid as well, or if you want more Vinegar punch, go with the straight up 1/4 cup of Red Wine Vinegar.
Serve this with Roasted Rosemary and Garlic Potatoes. Not pasta. A simple Escarole or other greens dressed with anchovies, capers, olive oil and garlic. Nice. What a meal this is.
SIDEBAR: Feel free to adjust the thickness of the chops. Most Restaurants make this with monster chops, just adjust your cooking times as they will differ.
If you want to roast this, simply add all the ingredients to the pan and roast in a pre-heated oven for 1/2 hour or till pork it tender.