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Oct 1, 2013
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Wine With…Pork Chops with Fried Green Tomatoes and Caper Aioli

After a profligate season, our tomato vines have shut down. We won’t be getting fresh homegrown tomatoes again until next summer, and even local farm stands and farmers’ markets don’t have much in the way of juicy red tomatoes bursting with flavor anymore. What is currently in plentiful supply, however, is a generous crop of green tomatoes, which should be available for several weeks to come. If you’ve never had really good fried green tomatoes you’re in for a treat. We prefer them with a very delicate dusting of breadcrumbs rather than a thick crust, and we sauté them very lightly so that they still have fresh, bright flavor. We served them recently with pork chops, but they could also be the star of a meatless meal accompanied by rice or lentils.

This recipe yields a generous supply of the aioli, which is so delicious you’ll want to slather it on the pork chops as well as the tomatoes

Pork Chops with Fried Green Tomatoes and Caper Aioli

Serves 4

1 clove garlic, finely minced
salt to taste
1 raw egg yolk*
2/3 cup olive oil for the aioli, plus 1/4 cup for cooking the tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon capers
4-5 medium firm green tomatoes
3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
4 grilled or pan seared pork chops


To make the aioli, place the garlic and salt in a blender jar or food processor. Add the egg and process for a few seconds. With the motor running add the 2/3 cup olive oil drop by drop until the mixture begins to emulsify; then add the rest in a steady stream. Add the lemon juice and pulse another few seconds. Transfer the aioli to a bowl, fold in the capers, and refrigerate until ready to use.

To sauté the tomatoes, cut them in medium-thick slices (about 3 slices each tomato). Spread about half the Panko crumbs over a large plate, then lightly press each tomato slice into the crumbs to coat both sides, adding more crumbs as needed. Don’t worry if the breadcrumb coating is not very thick or evenly distributed.

Pour about ¼ inch olive oil in the bottom of a heavy skillet and place the pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot, add the tomatoes in a single layer (work in batches or use two skillets if you wish, adding more olive oil as needed). Cook 2-3 minutes, or until the crumbs on the bottom side are golden brown, then flip them and do the same on the other side. Do not overcook—they should be soft and tender, but not mushy. Serve them immediately with the pork chops and aioli.

*If you are nervous about using raw eggs look for pasteurized eggs at your local supermarket

* * *

Reds and whites that were fruit-filled and somewhat sweet on the palate performed equally well with this dish. Not surprisingly, the reds showed best with the grilled pork, the whites with the tomatoes. Both when a forkful contained both, along with a dollop of aioli, neither color turned out to be significantly better than the other. What did not work, though, were bone-dry wines, and those with pronounced earthy or mineral-laden flavors. This dish needs the mouthwatering sweetness of rich, juicy fruit to augment is equally rich, creamy character. As a result, texture and succulence ends up being much more important than color.


Selection

Approx. Price

Comments

Freemark Abbey, Napa Valley (California) Viognier 2012

$32

Though lacking the haunting honeysuckle bouquet of the finest Viogniers, this wine exhibits the juicy texture characteristic of the variety. Its warm, summery flavors enlivened the meal.

Dr. Loosen, Mosel (Germany) Riesling Kabinett “Erdener Treppchen” 2011

(Imported by Loosen Brothers USA)

$27

The sweetest wine we are recommending, this Mosel beauty is light bodied by oh so rich in flavor. We worried that it might be overwhelmed by the pork, but its vivacious personality carried the day.

Rosemount Estate, McLaren Vale (Australia) GSM 2010

(Imported by TWE Imports)

$25

Deeply flavored yet exhibiting a sunny warmth, this Aussie blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre tastes rich and spicy. Though weighty on the palate, its bright personality never allowed it to turn domineering or excessively forceful..

Stags’ Leap, Napa County (California) Merlot 2010

$33

A pretty Merlot, with dark berry flavors and more than a fleeting resemblance to dark cherries, this nicely balanced wine tastes serious but not heavy or ponderous. Drinking it with the aftertaste of aioli made for a very agreeable partnership.

Stuhlmuller Vineyards, Alexander Valley (California) Chardonnay “Estate” 2011

$25

The best of three different Chardonnays we tried, this is a rich Californian, with echoes of vanilla and butterscotch in the finish. Its sweet, sunny disposition made it an excellent partner for this wholesome all-American dish.