As a fellow Italian cook, I base most of my recipes on my grandmother. As a proficient financial manager, I base my money expertise on my mother. Mom could handle money but she couldn’t cook a carrot. Back to my grandmother. That woman had five children and seventeen grandchildren. Every Sunday, after mass, ALL of us would congregate in grandma’s house, a two bedroom flat and have an Italian feast together. Adults sat in the living room. All seventeen cousins crammed into the kitchen.
You couldn’t help growing up, to become an expert Italian cook and like most Italian cooks, we don’t measure. It’s a little bit of this. A little bit of that and voila…..another Italian masterpiece is born. When people ask me how can I cook and not measure, I ask them when they make themselves a cup of coffee or tea in the morning, do they measure out the milk or the lemon? The answer is always no because after a few tries, you know just exactly how much to pour in. That’s Italian cooking. We just know.
If you want to follow good Italian recipes, I recommend the teachings of Lidia Bastianich (click here). That woman has gotten almost all of our favorite and regional Italian dishes correct. You don’t have to buy any of her books as most are on the internet for free. You can also either watch Lidia for free on PBS or on YouTube and learn all her techniques.
Yesterday, I made one of Lidia’s favorite fall time recipe for Pork Capricciosa (click here). Naturally, of course, being the Italian cook that I am, I sort of followed Lidia’s recipe. I didn’t include the potatoes in my recipe and I didn’t have the cherry peppers she recommended. As a frugal Italian chef, I used what I had in the fridge. I substituted mild pepper rings for the cherry peppers and I sauteed the finished pork chops in a bit of roasted red pepper tapenade and artichokes. I added a bit of my own home-made chicken broth to create a nice sauce. You get the idea.
I bought the center cut pork chops on sale, at only $1.79 a pound (cheaper than Aldi and much better quality) from my favorite gourmet grocer. They were the right thickness and superb quality. I always watch their weekly flyers and when they have a good sale, I’m there, ready to stock up.
As a vegetable side dish, I oven fried split brussel spouts and Spanish garlic, tossed in olive oil and pink salt in a very hot 400F degree oven. Since we are reserving our carb days for the weekend, I would normally have served this meal either with a rice dish or cous cous.