Tag Archives: mozzarella cheese

Alas, Cheese

The bright lights of the cheese counter has always enthralled me, calling to me like a beacon. Even now, older and much wiser, I still find myself drawn to the refridger-aires sitting like islands upon the laminated supermarket floors.

My eyes scan the offerings: Walnut encrusted gobs of fluroescent orange cheese-balls, creamed cheese products disguised as culinary vices, and huge blocks of vacuum-packed colby cheese (often best left in the wrapper). But I never wince in disapointment at these choices, for I know that maybe one day there’ll be a surprise hidden amongst this dairy detritus.

Like the one day that they had Morbier cut from wheels, displayed in the suffocating plastic wrap that is the bane of all those who truly love their cheeses. I recall bringing the cheese home with a feeling of giddiness. I unwrapped it and stared at it intently, affectionately, wonderin g what would be in store for me as it matured.

To me, the best cheese let you know what you’re getting yourself into before you take a knife to it. The Morbier held an aroma similar to a glass of cream that had been sitting out of refrigeration for only ten minutes. I picked the cheese amazed, as always, by the fact that I am holding milk in my hand. I think back to the wanderer who accidentally discovered the cheese making process. He undoubtedly tossed the cheese curd aside, thinking it spoilt. I then imagine the joy of the other wanderer, discovering the same cheese and putting his stomach on the line simply to see if it was edible. His teeth softly cutting through the curds, releasing its creaminess upon the palate.

What draws us to cheese? For me, the variety holds me dear. From the stringy milkiness of a fresh buffalo Mozzarella, to the delicate crunch of the crystals found in the sharp meat of a high quality Parmigiano-Reggiano, cheese offers variety, not just in taste, but also in the way it feels in the mouth. Let’s not forget the way it holds the tongue. Sometimes the cheese slightly liquifies upon the tongue coating it with its flavors, be it the sharpness of a blue cheese, or the tangy-creaminess of a good Camembert cheese.

The best cheese, regardless of variety, let’s you in on the dietary habits of the animal from whence it came. The day you can tell the difference between grass-fed cow’s milk cheese and hay-fed cow’s milk cheese is a day you’ll never forget.

So although I detest a great majority of the supermarket, the cheese counter is the one place where I try to withold too much judgement. Because somedays, it pays off. Recently, the nationally known place down the street has started selling cheese without plastic wrap. Color me a very happy person.

Braciole di Maiale alla Pizzaiola

This is the first official pork recipe for this series and I think I picked a darn good one. It came out far better than I expected, and it was tasty and juicy.

And yes, it’s an Italian dish…from teh Neopolitan region (The use of tomatoes is the tip off…actaully, the term ‘alla Pizzaiola’ is the rea big tip off). If your frightened of using Italian names, just call it Pork chops with Mozzarella and Oregano.

  • 2 lbs boneless pork chops, 1/2 – 3/4 inch thick (I did use thicker cuts, and they came out fine).
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 5 sprigs of fresh marjoram
  • 1 1/3 cup of your favorite chianti
  • 14 oz can of canned plum tomatoes, drained
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup beef stock
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp dried oregano

Place the pork chops in a glass dish. give a light coat of salt and pepper (to taste) and top with the sprigs of marjoram. Cover with the chianti, and marinate for at least an hour. More if you’re feeling a bit punchy.

After the marination is complete to your liking, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Using a food processor, puree the tomatoes. Add 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil, the garlic, and salt and pepper (again, to taste). Place in a heated suace pan and cook for 5-7 minutes over medium high heat.

Remove the pork chops from the marinade (reserve the marinade for later use) and pat dry with paper towels. Dredge the chops in the flour and tap off any excess, leaving the chops only lightly coated with flour.

In a large skillet, place the rest of the olive oil and all of the butter. Turn the heat to medium/medium high. When butter has dissolved, and no foam remains, place i nthe pork chops and sear both sides. Pour the marinade over the chops and allow to stew for 45 – 60 seconds. When marinade starts to bubble, add the stock and salt and pepper once again to taste. Cover, lower the heat to medium, and cook for 7-9 minutes.

After the 7-9 minutes, remove pork chops to a baking dish. Deglaze the skillet with a little water and reduce. Spoon the deglaze over the chops.

Cover each pork chop with tomato sauce and cheese (or cheese first, and then sauce… it’s up to you). Sprinkle with oregano and once again salt and pepper to taste. Place baking dish into over for 5 minutes in order to melt the cheese.

Serves 4-6