Here is a fantastic dish inspired by Julia Child; below you will access its easy recipe and the varying qualities of different cuts of pork. My next entry will be braised cabbage, which Child recommends as an accompaniment to this cream and mustard pork loin; in this second entry, I will relate my experience of inviting this greatest of American chefs Julia Child to dinner.
The Mastery of the Art of French Cooking
This well-known recipe is from The Mastery of the Art of French Cooking, volume one, which Child published in 1961, in collaboration with Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck. Child and Beck alone printed the second volume in 1970.
Pork, a Poorer Man’s Food in the Mid-Twentieth Century
In my 1964 edition of Joy of Cooking, Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker introduce their section on pork, with the following:
“Someone has observed that a pig resembles a saint in that he is more honored after death than during his lifetime. Speaking further of his social standing, we have noticed that when smoked, he is allowed to appear at quite fashionable functions; but that only one’s best friends will confess to anything more than a bowing acquaintance with pork and sauerkraut or pigs’ feet.” 1
Popular Loin Cuts and their Corresponding French Names
The Mastery of the Art of French Cooking, however, has numerous very delectable recipes for pork, one of which is my version of cotes de porc sauce nenette given here. A list is given in this cook book, of the different popular cuts of this meat, along with their corresponding French names.
First the loin is described. (Child’s list is for roasting and braising the whole loin, though chops are taken from these cuts.) Its center cut, or milieu de filet, is lean meat and corresponds to the porterhouse or t-bone steak section of beef, with both loin and tenderloin (Trader Joe’s sells boneless, French-cut, center-cut, loin chops for $6.49/lb-expensive, but worth it!). The rib cut-carre-is also lean meat and corresponds to the rib section of beef, with loin, but no tenderloin. The loin end-pointe de filet-is the same as the rump of beef, a combination of fat and lean, while the shoulder or blade end-echine-is also a combination of fat and lean. This latter is a favorite roasting cut in France; it is the shoulder-chop end of the loin. 2
Three Other Popular Pork Cuts
Mastery lists three other cuts: the first being shoulder butt or Boston butt-palette-another combination of fat and lean. It states that in the U.S., we also have a picnic shoulder or shoulder arm, of which there is no French equivalent; this is lean meat. Finally, there is the fresh ham-jambon frais-which is lean meat that can be bought whole, or in part, and boned, or not. 3
Various Bacons Taken from Two Primal Cuts of Pork
Canadian style bacon also comes from the loin section of the pig, for it is thinly sliced, smoked pork loin. Regular bacon, however, comes from its flank, which is below the loin; salt pork also comes from the flank. 4
Joy of Cooking shows a total of 34 different cuts used of pork, in its chart. Among them are these bacons, while some others include the following cuts: loin chop, rib chop, Frenched rib chop, butterfly chop, blade loin roast, and crown roast-all of these come from the loin. 5
Primal Cuts Defined, With Their Numerous Specific Cuts
Wikipedia states that there are at least 25 Iberian pork cuts, somewhat less than those identified by Joy of Cooking. The information online expresses that the terminology and extent of each cut-in these more than 25 cuts-varies from country to country. It goes on to say there are between four and six primal cuts-the large parts in which the pig is first divided, which are the principal commercial cuts, of which these 25 or more specific, or retail, cuts are taken. Wikipedia says these four to six primal cuts are: the shoulder (blade and picnic), the loin, the belly (spareribs and side) and the leg (also known as the ham). 6
Joy of Cooking lists twelve commercial cuts, including the above six, as well as the fat back, hock, snout, jowl, fore foot, and hind foot. These last six commercial cuts have popular use, varying from region to region, here and throughout the world. 7
Variety is the spice of life: in different ways, cultures emphasize unique qualities of the whole person, or in this case the pig. What is required for the kitchen in France varies-greatly at times-from that needed here in America, or elsewhere. Thus, we must carefully cover all bases, letting nothing slip through in our communication with foreigners, concerning our instructions on nutrition.
Popular foods here (such as the picnic ham) are not known at all in some European countries. They have no reference point for such foods. When talking about the ailments of our own region, we must slow down and be sure all is being understood clearly. For as the saying goes, we may be speaking “Greek” to them.
Likewise, this rule applies to our instructions outside the kitchen, given to those whose hearts are seeking. We move meekly, as we share our wisdom, which can set the captive free. The old adage a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, must be administered mildly, quietly, in small amounts to those around us (especially, those whose “dietary needs” limit what they can take in, at any given time).
In this way, we move wisely across nations and peoples, with not only our recipes, but also the heartbeat of our lives, the good news of the gospel.
Enjoy this superb dish, which is easy to make. How it wows!
- Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker (New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc.), p. 406.
- Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck, The Mastery of the Art of French Cooking, 2 volumes (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1961, reprinted eighteen times, twentieth printing, May 1971), Vol. 1, p. 378.
- Ibid., pp. 378, 379.
- Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, Joy of Cooking (New York: Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1931, reprinted ten times, twelfth printing, 1964), pp. 396, 397.
- Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, Joy of Cooking (New York: Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1931, reprinted ten times, twelfth printing, 1964), p. 397.
Cotes de Porc Sauce Nenette Yields: 2 servings. Active prep time: 1 hr/ marinating time: 3-12 hr. Note: the following is inspired by Julia Child’s recipe in The Mastery of the Art of French Cooking, pp. 376, 386, 387; it includes Child’s marinade seche, which greatly enhances the recipe.
Needed: a covered pan suitable for both stove top and oven; for a single recipe, an 8”, 3-quart, fireproof casserole works well; if doubling recipe, use a 10”-12” Dutch oven.
Marinade Seche (This is enough for up to 2 lbs of meat; if you are making more than 2 lbs, increase the recipe accordingly.)
2 tsp salt (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; an inexpensive, fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco for $4.95 for 5 lbs.)
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp ground sage or thyme
1/4 tsp ground bay leaf
Two pinches allspice
Optional: 1 clove mashed garlic
1-1 1/3 lb boneless, pork loin chops, or 2 chops, 1 1/4” thick (Note: boneless, French-cut, center-cut, pork loin chops are available at Trader Joe’s, which are rather expensive-$6.49/lb, but worth it!)
1 tbsp oil (Avocado or coconut oil is important for health, as olive oil is carcinogenic, when heated to high temperatures.)
1 tbsp butter
Optional: 1 clove garlic, halved
1 c heavy whipping cream (Note: increase the sauce recipe by one and a half, for four chops; for six chops, double the sauce recipe.)
1/8 tsp salt
Pinch of pepper
2 tsp dry mustard (Available in bulk at most grocery stores.)
4 tsp tomato paste
4 tsp chopped fresh basil (If you have fresh basil that you are not able to use right away, you may freeze the whole leaves in water, in a small container; be sure to thaw the night before cooking. Large, fresh, basil plants are often available at Trader’s for $3.99; see photo below.)
If using frozen basil, thaw a day ahead, in the refrigerator.
- In a small bowl, mix the first six ingredients; rub pork loins with this marinade seche. Place loins in a glass, or stainless steel, dish. Cover and marinate for at least 3 hours, better overnight, turning at least 2-3 times during marinating period. This brings out flavor and tenderizes the meat. May not need to use all the marinade. See photo below.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Before cooking the chops, scrape off the salt and herbs; then, dry the meat thoroughly with paper towels (drying aids in the browning process); see photo below.
Heat pan over med-med/high heat; add 1 tbsp oil for 2 chops; place pork chops in hot oil (if doubling the recipe, be sure not to crowd chops, but cook 2 or 3 at a time, or they will steam rather than brown).
- Cook 3-4 minutes per side, or until nicely browned (see photo below).
- Prepare basil by chopping. If using frozen basil, drain it well, chop small, and measure 2 tsp of the wet leaves, as opposed to 4 tsp of fresh leaves, for a single recipe.
Remove chops to a plate, pour out fat in pan; then, add butter and optional garlic-listed under Chops. Return the meat and all its juices to hot pan; let cook until you hear the loin chops sizzle.
- Cover the pan and place in the bottom third of oven, for 25-30 minutes, or until there is no color in chops, when center is cut with a knife. Be sure to turn and baste the chops occasionally.
- Meanwhile in a small saucepan, bring cream, salt, and pepper, listed above under Sauce Nenette, to a simmer over med/low heat; then, cook for 8-10 minutes, or until it is reduced by a third, or a total of 2/3 cups. Do not cover pan.
- Blend the mustard and tomato paste together in a small bowl; beat hot cream into this mixture with a wire whisk; set aside.
- When chops are done, remove to a plate, and degrease the meat juices, by using a long-handled spoon (draw spoon over the surface, to dip up a thin layer of fat; it helps to tip pan, to more easily reach fat.)
- Pour cream mixture over juices in pan and simmer for 3-4 minutes, uncovered, on top of stove. Adjust seasoning (know meat will be salty from marinade), stir in chopped basil, return chops, basting them with sauce. See photo at top of recipe.
- For low-carb, gluten-free needs, I like to serve this with quinoa (see recipe at Quinoa Dishes). Childs suggests braised cabbage for a vegetable; my version of this will be my next entry, or see my 1880’s Minced Cabbage, for another ideal accompaniment to this dish.