One of my favorite flavors of Italy is balsamic vinegar (aceto balsamico). In Tuscan homes it is a staple ingredient. Dark, glossy, sweetly sour, balsamic vinegar is the perfect condiment for both salads and desserts. Or try the lighter version, an aged white balsamic vinegar, almost like honey — it can transform any dish with just a little dash. If you are after the richest, most complex balsamic vinegar flavors, look for an aceto balsamico tradizionale DOP.
When I came across this recipe, originally for ribs, I knew I had to try it. The blend of spices in the rub adds a complex layer of flavors that doesn’t overwhelm the meat, but simply raises it to a new level. This past weekend, we served these to a group of foodie enthusiasts who had hob-knobbed all over the world. When I heard them explain, “these are the best ribs I’ve ever put in my mouth! Sister, I must have the recipe,” I felt pretty pleased! If it worked for ribs, why not transform an ordinary pork chop into a culinary masterpiece? Fresh off the grill, they are juicy and sweet with the balsamic glaze kicking it up that extra notch.
Tuscan-Style Grilled Pork Chops with Balsamic Glaze
- In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, rosemary, kosher salt, fennel, black pepper, sage, thyme, paprika, crushed red pepper, coriander and allspice. Rub the spice paste all over the pork chops and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours or refrigerate overnight.
- Preheat your gas grill. Brush both sides of your pork chops with the balsamic vinegar and place on the hot grill and grill for 4 min. on one side, or until the pork releases from the grill. Brush again with the balsamic vinegar and flip over. Grill for 3 min. on the other side. Remove from grill and serve immediately.
Note: If using this recipe to make ribs, follow step 1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Arrange the ribs on a large, rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan, meaty side up. Roast the ribs for 2 hours, or until tender. Preheat the broiler. Brush the meaty side of the ribs with the balsamic vinegar and broil 6 inches from the heat until browned, about 2 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, then cut between the ribs and serve.
This is definitely the season for soups and we are adding them to our menus at the convent every week. There are so many kinds to choose from, they are so much fun to make, and so satisfying to eat. One of the suppers which sisters most love is a big hearty soup served right out of the skillet in which it has been prepared and then simmered a good part of the afternoon. Each person goes by and dips out a bowlful just to their liking to take back to their table where home baked bread and salad is waiting for them. This simple experience almost always puts everyone in a jovial mood that makes for a good time at the table with a warm “homey” atmosphere filling the refectory. One of our most popular choices is this goulash soup with a light Hungarian accent.
- Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the meat, onion, garlic, and carrots and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes until lightly colored. Add the cabbage and bell pepper and cook stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes.
- Sprinkle in the flour and paprika and cook, stirring continuously, for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the vegetable stock, a little at a time. Increase the heat to medium and bring to a boil, stirring continuously. Season to taste with salt, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Add the potatoes and bring back to a boil, then reduce the heat, re-cover the pan, and simmer for another 20-30 minutes, until the potatoes are soft but not falling apart.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding salt and pepper if needed. Stir in the sugar, if necessary. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls, swirl a little sour cream or shredded cheese on top of each, and serve immediately.