Grilled Chops with Garlic Scape Pesto and Savory Pancetta Farina

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So, this recipe has a crazy long name. I don’t really know what to do about that – all the words are pretty necessary.

This is a showstopper of a dinner – perfect for warm Texas weekend afternoons and a nice party entrée.

The side dish was really special: farina cooked with chicken stock, olive oil, pancetta, cream, parmesan, and salt and pepper. It was creamy, cheesy, and comforting – definitely naughty.

Farina is essentially cream of wheat and a cousin of grits, in case you were wondering.

Combining meat and pesto is a little old hat, but by using garlic scapes and parsley it created an interesting departure from trusty ol’ basil. Kind of chimichurri-ish minus the red wine vinegar.

Don’t have garlic scapes? Use the green part of a scallion.

Truth be told, I actually feel a little silly to be writing a grilling recipe.

For starters, I’d previously mentioned that I have a fear of the grill. I don’t know why. It’s hot and sometimes flames shoot out of it…maybe that’s why?

Secondly, it is RAINING outside, dude.

Anyway, this was what I made for my Mother’s Day dinner. I really prefer to stay away from large crowds, so the hermit in me says to just cook at home. Plus, I see this as a guilt-free excuse to use copious amounts of olive oil (specifically, Texas Olive Ranch), butter, carbs, and pancetta.

And then wash it all down with two margaritas that I forced my hubby to make for me.

Tequila, olive oil, and Mother’s Day? Sounds like a fun time to me.

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When making pesto, or any type of fresh herb sauce, using the highest quality items you can will yield the best results.

All my produce was organic and I was lucky to score garlic scapes in my co-op share from Urban Acres.

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 GARLIC SCAPE PESTO

(Pesto recipe makes enough to marinade four chops, plus enough for condiment)

Garlic Scape Pesto Ingredients:

4 large garlic scapes (or about 1/2 lb.)

1/2 lb. good quality Parmesan Cheese, chopped

zest of one lemon

juice from half a lemon

1 small bunch of parsley

3 T. pine nuts

1 cup of high quality olive oil (I used Herb Garden from Texas Olive Ranch)

1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper

1 tsp. coarse sea salt

Directions:

1. Roughly chop garlic scapes.

2. Place all ingredients (except for olive oil, salt, and pepper) into the work bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times until ingredients are roughly blended.

3. With motor running, pour olive oil through work chute of food processor and continue to run until all ingredients are combined and finely mince.

4. Add in ground pepper and sea salt and pulse to combine.

5. Pesto will keep tightly sealed an in refrigerator for about one week. I take half of my pesto and freeze it for later use.

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Grilled Chops with Garlic Scape Pesto and Balsamic Reduction

Ingredients:

2 x 1/4 pound pork sirloin chops OR

4 center cut pork chops

1/4 recipe Garlic Scape Pesto, plus 1 T. per serving (reserved)

2/3 cup balsamic vinegar, divided

salt and pepper, to taste

2 tsp. sugar

Directions:

1. Into a large zip-top plastic food storage bag, place your pork chops, pesto, and 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar.

2. Seal bag and “mush” all ingredients until chops are thoroughly coated. Let marinate in fridge for at least one hour, but no longer than 8.

3. Following the directions of your barbeque, over medium heat, grill chops until cooked through and a meat thermometer reads 145 degrees, per food safety standards.

4. Remove from grill and loosely tent pork chops, allowing to rest at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

5. Meanwhile, in a sauce pan, bring reserved 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar and 2 tsp. sugar to rapid bowl. Pour into this mixture any loose cooking juices that have accumulated on the resting pork plate.

6. Allow balsamic vinegar to boil over medium heat until reduced by half and syrupy, about ten to 15 minutes.

7. Slice grilled pork chops and drizzle with balsamic reduction. Serve each portion with about 1 T. Garlic Scape Pesto for dipping.

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SAVORY PANCETTA FARINA

(Serves 6)

***This cooks so quickly, you MUST have all your ingredients measured and handy before beginning the recipe***

Ingredients:

4 oz. chopped pancetta

1 tsp. olive oil

1 cup instant farina (I found this in the bulk section of my market)

4 cups chicken stock

3/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese

2 tsp. grated lemon zest

1/3 cup heavy cream

1 T. olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. Over medium heat, in a large saucepan, fry pancetta in 1 tsp. olive oil until cooked through and crispy. Remove from pan, including any rendered fat, and set aside. You must set aside the fat since we are adding a water-based liquid to the pan next. (Water plus hot oil = danger!)

2. To hot pan, bring chicken stock to simmer. Add in farina, and using a whisk, stir constantly to remove any lumps. The farina should cook in 1 – 2 minutes, tops.

3. Quickly add in all remaining ingredients, including rendered pancetta drippings. You may choose to add in a splash more stock or cream, to your liking. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve this dish with a nice glass of wine if your feeling classy.

If not, feel free to force your husband, wife, partner, friend, kids, to make you a margarita.

Enjoy!

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