by Amanda Mattos
A few months ago, I had a dinner party. I spent hours pitting cherries to make a cherry reduction sauce for pork chops. It was good… enough. But the whole time I was eating it, all I could think was, ketchup would have been better. And when you’ve spent hours pitting cherries, and more hours making a complicated sauce, that’s not exactly the feeling you want to walk away with. So, when making dinner last night (from bounty procured at the Bloomingdale Farmers’ Market), I decided to basically make a sauce that was as close to ketchup as I could come. I served it with mashed sweet red potatoes and a mustard green salad that were perfect compliments (I’ve included those recipes below, too). This was dinner for 2, so adjust quantities as needed. Recipe after the jump.
Tomato Reduction Sauce, aka, Fancy Ketchup-like Topping for Pork
-One box of those grape tomatoes, halved. Or any equivalent measure of tomatoes.
-One small can tomato paste
-A few tablespoons balsamic vinegar
-One shallot, diced
-4 cloves garlic, diced
-1 chili pepper (I used a cayenne from my garden), diced
-Red wine (maybe… 1/2 cup? I just poured it in until it looked right)
-Salt & Pepper to taste
Basically I just sauteed the oil, pepper, shallot and garlic for a few minutes until it got nice and strong smelling. Then I added in the tomatoes, and sauteed until they softened. Once that’s cookin, add the tomato paste and vinegar. Soon as the tomato paste is softened and integrated, pour in the wine. Let that boil till it all reduces down, add the salt and pepper. At the very end, before I served it, I threw in a few handfuls of arugula and let that wilt. It turned out really, really well. I’ll definitely be making this again. You could put it on just about anything and it’d work out. Maybe if you were using it on poultry, use rosemary instead of arugula or something.
I served it over some dead-simple pork chops (free range! thanks, farmers) — just salt, pepper, garlic powder on both sides, pan fried in olive oil and butter until cooked as you like. This is the only way I ever make pork chops. It is always simple, and always perfectly delicious.
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Boiled about 10 teeny little red sweet potatoes until they were soft. Mashed with cinnamon, nutmeg, a touch of cream, a few tablespoons of butter, and a few tablespoons of brown sugar. Delicious.
Mustard Green Salad
Catherine turned me on to mustard greens last weekend. I made a salad of these spicy greens (that really taste like mustard!), chopped radishes, Wallaby cheese from the Keswick creamery (it’s sort of like Monterey Jack — mild but flavorful and creamy; a nice way to cut all the spice and acid of this salad), and a dressing of walnut oil (this stuff is really potent, so use very sparingly), olive oil, pear white balsamic vinegar (most of the acid came from the lmeon juice, but this gave it a little balance), lemon juice, 2 garlic cloves, salt, pepper, and just a touch of sugar.
Tips for Making Salad Dressings: Always remember Jamie Oliver’s rule for dressings: 1-to-3. One part acid (whether you’re using vinegar, citrus, or something else) to 3 parts fat. I like things a bit tangier than most, so I genearlly even that out just a touch, but it’s a great rule of thumb if you’re unaccostomed to making dressings from scratch (which are just worlds better than anything you can buy prepared). Also remember, dressings (like most sauces) will taste better the longer they’ve had a chance to sit. The flavors integrate more and get stronger. So if you’re having a dinner party or something and looking for a piece of the puzzle that you can make ahead of time, salad dressing is a good place to start.