Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Fennel Orange Salad and Smoked Paprika Pork {Spanish Řízek}

Living in the Czech Republic continuously influences my food choices - even when I'm not looking to eat typical Czech cuisine. In the past, when a big beautiful bulb of fennel was spotted at the market, I would think about an equally big, beautiful fennel and orange salad. Maybe with walnuts. Or with grapefruit segments. But definitely I thought in terms of salads.

Now, I see fennel and it screams: PORK! Fennel and pork, fennel and pork, oh boy, oh boy.

I gasped. I composed myself. 'How about a compromise?' said one little part of the mind to the other little part of the mind.

It didn't turn into a terribly innovative dinner, rather classic really, but it does fit the eating styles of one healthy-leaning lady and one full-on Czech bloke.

The reigning popularity of Czech cuisine in the Czech Republic continues to amaze me. Young and old alike seek the classics developed decades upon decades ago. One of these is řizek (wiener schnitzel.) Think chicken fried steak, or a giant chicken nugget if you like, but instead of chicken stick in the middle a piece a beaten, flattened pork. You can eat it alone with mashed potatoes, or between two slices of dark semi-rye bread as a sandie (it's the most popular snack to bring in the car for long-distance travel. Maybe I'll tell you about that Czech bus trip to Italy some time. Here's a hint: nearly 100 řízek sandwiches in a bus for 15 hours. Awesome.)
I mention řízek to explain why I tell the hubs this dish is a Spanish řízek. Basically, it's your average breaded and fried piece of pork found in Central Europe, except with a good dose of smoked paprika (pimentón) and baked, not fried. The pork fennel relationship is satisfied by the addition of the salad, which really balances out the meal on it's own. This duo is satisfies multiple locales on the tongue extremely well.

Continue to Recipe...

Recipe: Smoked Spanish Pork
Adapted from Gourmet 2008
Eat with Gruner Vetliner or Sauvignon Blanc
Time 45 minutes
Serves 2 people  (plus leftovers)

3 Tb olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup toasted almonds, chopped finely
2 tsp rosemary, finely chopped
1 Tb vermouth (or Madeira)
2 tsp smoked paprika (pimentón)
1 egg
500g pork tenderloin cut in 3/4 inch slices

Heat your oven to 425°F/220°C

If you've got a cast iron pan you can do this all in just that - no extra dishes. In a (cast iron) pan heat the garlic in the olive oil on low heat just until fragrant (about a minute.) Add in the bread crumbs, chopped almonds, rosemary, vermouth and paprika. Mix well and keep on low heat for another minute. Take of the heat and pour the crumb-mix on a wide plate. Mix the egg well in a shallow dish. Dip the pork in the egg (one piece at a time) and then dredge in the breadcrumbs until well coated. Place breaded pork slices in the pan (or baking dish if you didn't use cast iron) and sprinkle any remaining breadcrumbs on top. Bake for about 20 minutes.

Recipe: Fennel Orange Salad
This is not so much a recipe as a throw-together idea to do while the pork is cooking.

1 orange
half a medium fennel
4 radishes
arugula and a green leafy salad - mixed half and half

1 Tb olive oil
1/2 Tb lemon juice 
pinch of salt
pinch of sugar

Get your dressing mixed first. In a small jar vigorously shake together the olive oil (best quality you got), lemon juice, salt and sugar. You want the sugar to dissolve, so the shaking, rather than just drizzling it separately when the time comes, is necessary. 

Thinly slice the fennel using a mandolin or a well-controlled knife in hand. Slice the radishes as well.

Cut the orange in salad-ready form, aka supreme that sucker (if you've never prepped a restaurant's salad line and don't know how to supreme an orange, as it's officially called, see blogger Tea and Cookies' amazing tutorial on this.) 

Arrange the salad leaves and arugula on the plates, top with the fennel, radishes, and orange slices. Dress with the lemon-oil.

Dobrou Chut'/ Enjoy.
-- Jo

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