The Market Report

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JD Olsen of Lou Wine Bar makes smoked pork chops from Niman Ranch's porterhouse pork chops. To make lean pork taste great JD recommends brining the pork, from 24 hours to up to 3 days. He seasons the brine (see below) with juniper berries, pepper and bay leaves. You can find Niman Ranch pork chops at Whole Foods.  While JD puts them in a simple smoker with hickory chips and smokes them on low heat, for three hours, he says the smoking is not necessary since brined chops are delicious however they're cooked.

Pork Brine (for up to 12 8-oz chops)
  • 1 gal filtered water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon crushed juniper berries
  • 1 Tablespoon crushed whole coriander seeds
  • 2 chiles de arbol
  • 6 fresh bay leaves

Place ingredients in an 8-quart container and whisk briskly until both salt and sugar are completely dissolved. Add pork chops and refrigerate for a minimum of 12 hours, or up to three days. Remove pork from brine, thoroughly rinse and pat dry. At this point the chops are ready to be smoked, but can be cooked immediately. Rub chops with olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Pan roast or grill 3-4 minutes per side. Brined chops keep up to four days. Smoking adds another two days to shelf life. 

Potato, Herbes de Provence Gnocchi (makes 60-80, depending on how large they are cut)
  • 6 medium-size russet potatoes
  • 1 large egg, whisked together
  • 1 tsp Herbes de Provence
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • up to 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups kosher salt for roasting potatoes

Pour enough kosher salt on a sheet pan to make an 1/8" deep bed for the potatoes to rest on. Bake the potatoes at 350° until easily pierced with a knife (45-60 minutes). Let potatoes cool to room temperature. Remove flesh from potatoes -- discard the skins -- and press flesh through a food mill or potato ricer, onto a parchment-covered half-sheet tray. Spread the potatoes into an even layer and bake until slightly dried, 5-7 minutes. 

D ust the top of a work table with a little flour. Turn the dried potatoes out onto the flour and form into a rough ball. Dust potatoes with a little flour, salt and Herbes de Provence. Flatten the ball with the palm of your hand, creating a depression in the center of the potatoes. Pour the egg into the depression and fold the potato over it again and again, dusting the mixture with a little flour as you go, until the egg, herbs and flour are well incorporated. Re-form the potato back into a ball and divide evenly into four parts. Scrape the work surface to remove any sticking potato bits. Re-dust the surface with a little flour. Using the palms and edges of your hands, roll each quarter of the potato mixture into a long, thin, even rope (12-18" in length). Using a sharp knife or pastry cutter, cut across the ropes at 3/4" to 1" intervals. 

Place a single gnocchi on the back of an overturned fork. Make a small depression in the gnocchi with your finger, pressing it slightly into the tines of the fork. Then, exerting a little pressure, roll the gnocchi down the length of the fork tines. If done correctly, there will be a row ridges around most of the gnocchi, with a tight little seam on one side. Gnocchi can be frozen at this point, tightly covered, for up to one month. To use, heat a little olive oil in a sauté pan, add the desired number of gnocchi directly from the freezer. Sauté, rolling them so all sides get browned, until golden, about 3 minutes. They can be further crisped by placing in a 500° oven for 1-2 minutes.

Wild Mushrooms with Wilted Mustard Greens
Serves 4
  • 1/2 lb mixed wild mushrooms (chanterelles, hedgehogs, black trumpet)
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped shallots
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of chopped fresh rosemary and thyme 
  • 1/4 cup filtered water
  • 2 Tablespoons pork demi glace (or chicken stock)
  • 3-4 leaves of green, curly mustard (depending on size), stem removed, torn into shards
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Salt and pepper 

Tear the mushrooms into halves and quarters, carefully inspecting them for small leaves, pine needles, etc. Give the mushrooms a quick rinse under cold water to rinse away any dirt or detritus. Place them on a dry towel until ready to use. Heat a sauté pan over high heat for one minute. Add olive oil. Wait 10 seconds and add shallots. When shallots begin to sizzle, add rosemary, thyme, mushrooms and a good pinch of salt. Toss mushrooms until well covered with olive oil. Immediately add filtered water, allowing the mushrooms to boil for a minute until they release some of their juices, and the sauce has reduced a bit. Add butter, constantly swirling the pan until butter has completely emulsified into the sauce. Add the mustard greens, tossing until they are wilted, about 30 seconds.

To serve, place the wilted mustard greens in the center of the plate. Surround with gnocchi. Lay the pork chop atop the greens. Spoon mushrooms atop the chop, sauce around the plate and chop. Garnish with a grind of pepper.


Start your own garden:

After a light rain is a good time to start a garden, according to Logan Williams of Hayground Organic Gardening.  Any pot with two feet of soil can support a tomato plant any many other plants. The main thing is to get your soil in order. Hayground recommends EB Stone Organics that you can get at Armstrong's.  The Williams' were given a cutting from a mint plant that Bob Marley grew on his porch and made tea from. They are selling it at the market. Hayground sells over 300 tomato plants as well as mint, basil and all other ground cover plants.  You can reach them at 323-216-0379 or find them at the downtown Santa Monica Farmers' Markets (Wednesday and Saturday) as well as the Sunday Hollywood market.

Hayground Organics

Mint Plant