Today I find myself a bit pensive, as yesterday was another thirty-something birthday for me. It made me feel very reflective and somewhat well, odd, I guess. See, back in my mid to late twenties, I picked an arbitrary age – seriously arbitrary, as in, not even a “milestone” age – and set two goals that “should” be accomplished by that age. Yesterday I turned that age. And neither goal has been met.
The first goal was financial in nature, and looking back, it was almost laughably ambitious. So I don’t feel particularly bad for not meeting it, but it does make me pause and reflect on my life and the unexpected twists and turns it’s taken. Like the legal career I abandoned. And if I can be brutally honest, there’s always a part of me that feels a little bit like a failure for no longer being a lawyer. Even though I know I made the right decision, a small part of me saw fit to pop up yesterday, unwelcome, and derisively ask if I would have met that financial goal by now were I still an attorney (in all realistic likelihood, probably not). But it still made me feel a little bit bad.
The other goal I set for myself had to do with having kids. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always felt extremely ambivalent about becoming a parent. It’s a feeling I always expected would go away to one side or the other, and when it hadn’t by my mid-twenties, I set a goal that by the age I turned yesterday, I would know for sure whether or not I wanted kids. Well, here it is, and I still don’t know. In truth, I feel perfectly fine without a baby, and don’t feel like I’m missing anything in the present; but I also don’t feel averse to the idea of having one, and I worry that years later I’ll regret it if I don’t experience motherhood.
So what does all this have to do with pork sandwiches? Well, nothing really; it’s just what’s on my mind today. Anywho, these sandwiches are insanely delicious, and I did promise you some more blackberry posts. This recipe was apparently inspired by ingredients local to the Portland, Oregon area, a locale I haven’t yet visited, though I’d very much like to someday. And I don’t really have any recipe notes, it was very straight-forward and easy to pull together. Enjoy!
Source: adapted from The Book of Burger by Rachael Ray
½ cup whole, peeled hazelnuts, toasted
1 cup panko bread crumbs
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 large eggs
4 (6 oz.) boneless, center-cut pork chops, pounded to about ¼-inch thick
Small handful each of fresh parsley and mint, minced together
4 brioche hamburger buns, split and toasted
1 ½ tbs unsalted butter
1 small shallot, minced
1 tbs flour
¼ cup pinot noir
A small handful of fresh blackberries
¼ cup chicken stock
Grind the hazelnuts in a mini food processor to fine crumbs. Place them on a plate and add the panko to them. Season with salt and pepper and toss everything to combine. Add a bit of flour to another plate, and season with salt and pepper. In a pie plate, beat the eggs with a splash of water and a little bit of salt and pepper. Place the pork chops first in the flour and coat on both sides. Shake off the excess, then dip in the egg wash. Let the excess drip off, then place in the hazelnut-panko mixture. Coat on both sides, pressing gently to adhere. Repeat with the remaining chops.
Preheat a large nonstick skillet to medium-high. Coat the bottom of the skillet with the olive oil. Add the chops to the hot oil and cook until golden brown and cooked through, 3-4 minutes per side. Do this in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan. Remove the chops to a plate.
Make the gravy. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook to soften, a couple of minutes. Add the flour and cook, whisking or stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk in the wine, and cook about 1 minute to reduce (it will bubble immediately and reduce very quickly, so keep an eye on it). Add the blackberries and chicken stock. Mash the blackberries with a wooden spoon or a potato masher. Once it has thickened to a desired consistency, reduce the heat, and season to taste with salt and pepper. You want the consistency to be thick enough to spread on a sandwich and not make too much of a mess.
To assemble the sandwiches, place the pork chops on a bottom bun, then top with a few heaping spoonfuls of gravy, then sprinkle some of the chopped herbs on top. Top with the top hamburger buns and dig in!