Have you ever had one of THOSE days in the kitchen? You know the ones I’m talking about, the ones where EVERYTHING you cook is a failure. The days where no matter how closely you follow the recipe, it inexplicable refuses to come together. Well, that was my experience with this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Coconut Lemongrass Braised Pork.
Let me preface this by saying that I was really looking forward to this recipe. I love a good curry and this one looked delicious. Granted, it didn’t really strike me as a summer recipe per se (anything which requires that much time in the kitchen with the oven turned on just doesn’t strike me as something I’d like to spend time with in the middle of July). But we have been having a relatively mild summer here in Germany, I had a new lemon rice recipe which I had been wanting to try, and we had recently made a trip to one of our favorite wineries to stock up on some nice crisp Riesling, so it really seemed like perfect timing.
Things seemed to be going well at first, all the pork got a nice searing on the stovetop and my spice mixture was smelling absolutely delicious! Not only that but I was very excited to be using up ingredients which I had previously purchased for earlier FFwD recipes, namely cardamom pods and white pepper. Am I the only one who gets geekily excited about using up those random specialty ingredients in my cupboards? I really hope not.
But moving on, after 30 minutes in the oven my pork was cooked through but none of the liquid had evaporated and my sauce looked more like a broth, so I put it back in for another 10 minutes. This may have been my fatal error, though I’m not entirely sure. 10 minutes later I took it out and tasted it. The pork was now overcooked and dry and my sauce looked and tasted like a watery broth. I know that Dorie states in her recipe that the sauce should not be too thick, but mine was so thin that, when ladled over the pork and veggies, it simply splashed into a pool at the bottom of the bowl, leaving the pork looking dry and unappetising (see the above picture of my first attempt at plating compared to Dorie’s beautiful picture).
In a last-ditch effort to save the dish I strained all the meat and vegetables out and boiled the heck out of the broth for about 5 minutes until it turned into a reasonable looking sauce. While thus distracted my rice burnt and the broccoli which I had planned to serve as a side got over-steamed. It really seemed that I just couldn’t win.
In the end the sauce & veggies were saved, the pork was dry and overcooked, the broccoli was mushy, and the rice was bitter… but at least the wine was good!