This meal..inspired by onions. Not just any onion, cipollini onions (pronounced chee-poh-leen-ee). These little spaceship shaped roots are full of flavor and hale from Italy. They are known in Italy as agrodolce which translates literally to “bitter-sweet”. They are often found peeled of their thin skin and cooked through in a reduction of balsamic vinegar and served as an accompaniment to charcuterie platters (meats and cheeses). They have a higher sugar content than a white or red onion and are oftentimes compared to Vidalia onions when it comes to sweetness.
I decided to parboil my cipollines a bit to not only aid in removing the thin skin but to also partly cook them before placing them on a skewer and grilling them over coals. Instead of using a balsamic vinegar I decided to try the black vinegar I purchased awhile back for Anthony Bourdain’s Macu-style pork sandwich (which was ahhhhhmazing by the way). The vinegar when used straight from the container has a bit of smokiness about it. Once I concentrated this flavor by reducing from 1 cup to 1/4 cup the pronounced flavor of smoky anise shined through. I added a sprig of rosemary while it reduced down. Even with this herb being my least favorite, I could appreciate the herbaceous “piney-ness” it lent to the grilled pork.
The pork chops here are simple. Salt. Pepper. Olive Oil. Boom. Nothing else. Nothing more.
The Parsnip Mash just reminds me of Fall and all the wonderful little roots that are making their way out of the ground and onto our plates. I only added one half pound parsnips to one full pound potatoes to lend subtle sweetness and parsnip zip to this mash. It of course has plenty of butter and just a dash of nutmeg (optional).
The brussels sprouts are simple as well. They are just quartered and then tossed in bacon grease and a glug of olive oil with salt and freshly ground pepper. They only take about 15 minutes to roast in a preheated oven.
This dinner was comforting and an open invitation for the upcoming cooler weather. The zingy onions I playfully added to the tops of each plate added a zippy tangy bite to this dish. I hope you enjoy this Fall dish and this wonderful season. The following recipes are for four servings.
*10 ounce package Cipollini Onions
*1 cup Black Vinegar
*2 Tablespoons Dark Brown Sugar
*1/2 sprig Rosemary
Soak 4 wooden skewers in water for 20 minutes. Bring small sauce pot of water to a boil. Add rinsed onions and parboil for 3 minutes. Remove onions to ice bath to cool. Remove to plate once cooled.
Bring remaining ingredients to a boil and then immediately turn heat down to simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Reduce down to 1/4 cup. It will have the consistency of syrup and coat the back of a spoon nicely. Remove from heat and hold. This video should give you an idea of what you’re looking for:
Cut off stem ends of onions and remove peels. Place onions on skewers and place on hot grill with chops. Turn every 3 or so minutes making sure each side is browning. Cook until able to pierce with a knife easily. These take 12-15 minutes. Once these are done use a basting brush to paint on the vinegar reduction like a barbecue sauce. Cook another 2 to 4 minutes brushing each side and turning to coat. These make four skewers with 3 -4 onions per skewer.
*1 Pound Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and quartered
*2 slices Thick Cut Bacon
*1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
*Salt and Pepper to Taste
Turn oven to 400°. On a non stick baking pan cook bacon for 15 – 18 minutes. Remove bacon and hold. Remove grease from pan except for 1 Tablespoon. Add 1 tablespoon Olive Oil and toss sprouts in fat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and roast in oven for 15 minutes or until fork tender. Crush bacon with hands and sprinkle over cooked sprouts and serve.
*4 bone-in Center Cut Pork Chops, about 1″ thick
*Olive Oil To Coat Chops
*Salt and Pepper to Taste
Salt and Pepper chops liberally and drizzle with olive oil. Place on heated grill and cook on each side about 5 to 8 minutes depending on degree of doneness. I like my chops at 155° which after resting for a few minutes will be about medium. My family (on the other hand) still refuses to eat anything pink, so pork in their eyes should be cooked til it’s white-or 300° (j/k…like chicken for them, so 165°).
1/2 lb. Parnsips, peeled and chopped
1 lb. Russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 stick Butter
1/2 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
Bring large pot of water to boil. Salt water to taste like the sea with kosher or table salt. Boil potatoes for 5 minutes and add parsnips (they cook faster). Continue to boil til tender, about 15 minutes. Drain into colander. Place back in pot and mash with potato masher until smooth. Add salt and Pepper to taste and add optional nutmeg. Add butter and stir in milk. Add more milk if desired until creamy and smooth.
Everyone raved about these flavors. My dad had never had cipollini onions before and loved how they paired with all the other sides. My mom actually cleaned her plate…of course after making sure that the pork chops were well done.
Family..what more can ya ask for?
What are your favorite dishes for this season? When you and all your family are able to come together, what dish is the most coveted? Who makes what? Who’s the grill master? The baker? The cleaner upper of all dishes?
Comment below:) And thanks for reading!