julia child, mastering the art of french cooking, julie powell, french cuisine

You Say Tomayto, I Say Tomahto


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“When I follow (Julia’s) cooking times for pork (or even when I don’t) I wind up with sawdust, usually.  Maybe it’s because she was cooking before pork was the Other White Meat.  Turned out good this time, though.” – Julie Powell

Remember these guys? Well, after three days of solitary confinement, they have fulfilled their destiny. Over the weekend, I finally got around to making our Cotes de Porc Robert (pork chops braised in fresh tomato sauce) with a side of Puree de Navets Parmentier (turnip and potato puree). While I began marinating the meat Thursday night with the intention of cooking this meal on Friday, some things came up that kept me from the kitchen, so the meat had to wait until Sunday. (Did you know that pork chops can keep in the fridge up to 5 days? I know, I looked it up.)

I was a little worried that the herb marinade was going to be too strong at this point, but when I opened the tupperware container, I was relieved to find the meat smelled delicious and the seasoning wasn’t too overpowering. I poured some oil into a pan and browned the meat on both sides, then set it aside while I worked on the tomato sauce.

Dumping the oil out of the pan, I added some butter and sauteed some minced yellow onion, then added a tablespoon of flour. I tossed in some chopped tomato (peeled, seeded and juiced). With a little bit of seasoning, I let the vegetables cook together, then added Vermouth and beef stock to the pan. While that came to a simmer, I peeled and quartered some turnips and blanched them (boiled them in salted water for a few minutes). I drained them and tossed them into a saucepan with some butter and poured beef stock in until they were almost covered. I put a lid on the pan and braised them for about thirty minutes. (Meanwhile, I was boiling peeled and quartered potatoes in a separate pot for the potato puree. More on that in a bit.)

Back to the meat, I stirred the tomato sauce and added each pork chop to the pan, basting them with the sauce. I covered the pan and let the meat simmer in the sauce for a few minutes, then moved the pan to the bottom third of a 325-degree oven where it baked for a half-hour.

Just before the timer sounded, I took the potatoes off the stove (they were nice and soft now), drained them, and mashed them in a bowl with a little bit of milk. I also drained the turnips (the liquied was supposed to have evaporated, but I still had a bit left in the pan and needed to move on with my life) and dumped them into a food processor to puree them. When I was left with a creamy texture, I poured them into the potato bowl and mixed everything together, adding some salt and pepper and a little butter for flavor. They looked like mashed potatoes, but I could definitely smell the turnips and wondered how this was going to taste.

I took the meat out of the oven and served the pork chops on two plates, letting the reamining sauce in the pan simmer on the stove before ladeling it over the chops. With a small scoop of turnip/potato puree on the side, we were ready to eat.

The meat was excellent. The tomato sauce was thicker and more substantial than I had originally envisioned, and because it was so easy to make and so tasty, I’d like to try it on other things as well – chicken, burger patties, maybe even some pasta. The marinade on the meat was just right, adding a little extra kick to the overall taste.

The puree, on the other hand, was not my favorite. While I love mashed potatoes, and the texture was just right, I couldn’t get past the bitter aftertaste of the turnips. This is the second time I’ve tried them, each time cooked a different way, and this is the second time I haven’t liked them. So I think it’s safe to say that turnips are just not my thing. But if YOU like turnips, and you’re a fan of mashed potatoes, you might like this creamy side dish.

The meal was pretty simple, but it was just right for us as we weren’t super hungry. Tonight we’re trying something entirely different…spinach and mushroom crepes! I have a feeling this is going to take a few attempts before success, but I’ll let you know how it all turns out.

Bon appetit!

– Jessica

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One Response to “You Say Tomayto, I Say Tomahto”

  1. Gwen Frazier says:

    I too hate turnips! When I was little my mother used to buy a large sack of turnips every winter and store them in our root cellar. They must have been cheaper than potatoes is the only reason I can imagine that she would buy a whole burlap sack full – must have been 30 – 40 pounds or so. She would then proceed to mix these with regular mashed potatoes like your recipe and I would never eat them and it made her sooooo mad! I could tell when they were in there as the normally snow white potatoes took on an unusual yellow appearance and I would sniff them when the bowl came by and I could smell the nasty bitter smell only a turnip can give off! Just say NO to turnips!

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