It’s time for the 4th installment of Going for the “Go To” Meals. Sheesh! Tuesdays sure seem to roll around a lot faster now than they did before. One of the most challenging things that I have found about the “Go To” series is deciding what to make each week. The whole reason I came up with the idea was to show how anyone can prepare an easy and delicious meal in less than an hour. No big deal, right? I mean, I do this all the time. So, why then, am I spending more time obsessing over what to cook than actually cooking? My obsessive/compulsive tendencies aside, I think it is because I want to impress you. I don’t want you to find out that many times I, like everyone else, just throw some chicken in the oven or steaks on the grill and call it a night. I want you to believe that I am brilliantly creative, effortlessly concocting one fabulous meal after another (wearing pearls and my 4 inch Manolos). Unfortunately, those of us that live in the real world rarely have the time to do that. But, you know what? It’s okay. There is no shame in baking a chicken or grilling a steak, as long it is prepared with love and care – and the appropriate seasonings.
A few weeks ago, I spied the most gorgeous veal chops at the meat counter in my local supermarket. They were almost 2 inches thick with a faint, blush pink color. At over $20.00 a pound, veal chops are not in my standard repertoire, and understandably so. However, for some reason that day they were on sale for the bargain price of only $13.99 a pound. Still a bit steep, but I threw caution to the wind, grabbed four and never looked back. Those beauties were calling out my name!
I firmly believe that when you start out with a really excellent product, simplicity is best. Why cover it up with a lot of superfluous stuff. Would you put a trench coat on David? Of course not! My veal chops would not suffer that indignity either. I decided to pan-roast them with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. To take it up a notch, I also decided to make an apple and shallot compote with a Calvados and cream base. You can skip this, as the chops can really stand on their own. You can also substitute onion for the shallots. I just happened to have shallots. Also, the veal chops can easily be exchanged for pork chops. No need to break the bank.
I seared the chops in my trusty cast iron skillet and finished them off in the oven. While they were roasting, I prepared the compote. I microwaved some Country Crock mashed potatoes (Hey, they beat instant potato buds!), to which I added chopped scallions and roasted garlic, steamed some green beans and that was it. In about 40 minutes, I had a lovely meal that I would have happily ordered in any restaurant.
Pan-Roasted Veal Chops with Calvados, Apple and Cream Compote
For the Veal Chops:
4 veal chops, 1 1/2 inches thick
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tbsp. butter
For the Compote:
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. minced shallots
2 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and chopped
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup Calvados*
1 cup heavy cream
4 or 5 fresh sage leaves
a few grinds of fresh nutmeg (optional)
Prepare the Veal Chops:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Season the veal chops with salt and pepper.
In a large skillet or saute pan, heat olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Sear the veal chops until nicely browned, about 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to a shallow roasting pan.
Bake for about 10 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a chop registers 155 degrees.
Transfer the chops to a serving dish and let rest while you make the compote.
Prepare the Compote:
Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the skillet. Place the skillet over medium heat, add the shallots and saute for 2-3 minutes, until they start to soften. Add a little more butter if needed.
Add the apples, sugar and sage and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
Add the Calvados and increase the heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits and cook until reduced by 1/2.
Add the cream. Bring to a simmer and cook for a few minutes or until reduced by 1/2.
Add nutmeg, if using.
Serve, either on top of veal chops or on the side.
*Calvados is an apple brandy from the French region of Basse-Normandie or Lower Normandy. It is a French brandy similar to cognac and armagnac.