I come from a family of great cooks. I had a wonderful nonna (grand-mother), the true matriarch, and a great adapted zia (aunt). Both ladies were born in Italy in 1906 and had such an interesting life. They both lived through two wars and had learned the meaning of “no food will go to waste”. Both had a passion for food, both loved and cooked for 30 peoples like it was making toast for one.
Their style of cooking was different. My nonna, cooked for her family, peoples that worked for the family, and any one that stopped by. She would make raviolis by hand for 30 peoples with no assistance from a rolling machine, but just a rolling pin. I remember her rolling out this very thin dough and filling half of the sheet with the right amount of filling, turning over the other half and with a ravioli rolling pin (the one with open squares) pressing the edges together. Her raviolis were perfection. I still have the taste in my mouth. She did pass down the recipe to my mom, which she pass down to me. She cooked cima, spezzatini, vitel tonnato, brodi di gallina, lingua… her dishes were very elaborate and took time to prepare and cook.
My zia, in the other hand, had a small “Pensione”. She did two lunch sitting, one at 12:30pm, the second at 2:00 pm, as well as a dinner sitting. At each sitting she would cook in this tiny little kitchen, with this tiny little stove, for 20 peoples. That is 60 persons a day. I always sat on this chair in the corner of her kitchen in complete awe as she did it all by herself and by 3:30 pm, almost daily, her kitchen was all put away and she was ready to meet her friends for tea and pastry. Her cooking was more simple and fast, but she never compromised the quality of her ingredients and she shopped every morning for her lunches and dinner. Everything was always fresh.
Tonight as time was not on my side, I decided to go “zia” style and make one of her favorite recipes: Cotolette di Maiale Impannate, or Breaded Pork Chops with steamed broccolis and green beans alongside.
Enjoy your dinner.
Tonight’s December 6, 2011 dinner:
Breaded Pork Chops
Steamed Broccolis and Green Beans
BREADED PORK CHOPS
4 bone in pork chops
1 cup all- purpose flour
2 extra-large eggs
¾ cup dry bread crumbs
¾ cup of Panko
½ cup parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
Fresh or dried herbs (rosemary, marjoram, thyme)
Preheat the oven at 375 º. On a shallow dish combine the flour, salt and pepper. On a second dish, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon of water. On a third dish, combine the bread crumbs, panko, parmesan cheese and herbs. Coat the pork chops on both sides with the flour mixture, shaking off any excess, then dip both sides into the egg mixture and dredge both sides in the bread crumbs mixture.
Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan and cook the chops on medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, until the pork chops exterior is nicely browned. Place in the hot oven and finish cooking them, 20 or so minutes. Make sure that the chops do not burn or overcook.