Miso-glazed pork chop with corn-maitake Calrosotto

Yes, I’ve taken another two-week break. It’s summer – the busiest time of year for us do-it-ourselves, radical homemakin’, types! I’ll show you later what’s been keeping me so busy (hint: jars and jars), but for now I really need to get this off my to-share list. It’s a real doozy.

I bought a big sampler box of gorgeous Tails and Trotters hazelnut-finished pork. Think Jamón ibérico, except with hazelnuts instead of acorns. Think Flintstonian pork chops that weigh a pound each, cloaked in two inches of built-in lardo. Spain may be the football wizards, but Oregon does this shit right. Testify.

One pork chop would easily feed two people, if I was judicious and didn’t make the meat the center of the meal. Fortunately, I also had fresh corn on the cob and maitake mushrooms. I love Japanese flavors with pork, and that shogayaki I made awhile back came out so nice, that I thought I’d go a similar route this time.

Do this, and thank me later: slice off most of the thick slab of fat (setting it aside) and bathe the pork chop in a slurry of shiro miso, soy, lemon juice, mirin, sake and rice vinegar. Add a scant teaspoon of sugar and some grated ginger for kick. Massage, and let it bask for a spell in all that umami (ooh, mommy). Get a pan pretty hot (medium high?) and hear that pork squeal when you lay it down. Oh, how it will sizzle and spit! The sugars will caramelize! The proteins will Maillard…ize! Flip after a moment or so, then turn off the stove and leave this in a warm (350° or so) oven to finish cooking through while you make the Calrosotto.

You can make an “-otto” out of pretty much any grain (unless you are on the faddish “paleo diet,” in which case you don’t eat grains, even though I am willing to bet good money that a caveperson wouldn’t turn down a good bowl of risotto). I made a risotto of sorts using Calrose (sushi) rice instead of arborio. I sauteed some corn cut from the cob with some shallot and maitake mushrooms, then did the “making risotto” thing, using sake instead of white wine to deglaze the pan and adding a little ginger and soy to the chicken stock. Oh, and I’m sure I needn’t remind you to save those cobs in the freezer for future corn broth, need I?

(Sidebar: paleo diet people eat don’t eat corn on the cob? Or potatoes? Or dairy? If I do my math correctly, that’s a life without corn chowder, and friends, THAT’S NO WAY TO LIVE. There, I said it. Moving on…)

Pull the pork chop out of the oven, and after a five minute rest, slice the meat provocatively across the grain, on the bias, and drape it sumptuously over the Calrosotto. Expertly dribble the pan sauce (it made itself! how clever!) over the meat. With blithe and irreverent laughter, sprinkle minced garlic flowers across the top.

Serve with a little cocktail I’ll call a “spuritseru” (say ‘spritzer’ in a Japanese accent): chilled sake on the rocks with a splash of sparkling limeade.