tuscan brined pork chops with salsa verde

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This recipe for juicy brined pork chops is a variation on one I’ve been making for years. While I was in Tuscany during my DaVinci Storyteller experience earlier this fall, I soaked up the aura and sensory beauty of the place – it’s hard not to! Aromatic foliage grows wild everywhere, like bay laurel, lavender and rosemary, each of which happen to be classic and delicious seasonings for thick cut pork chops.  [Read more…]

Slow-Cooked Pork with White Beans and Rosemary


I hauled my Crock-Pot out of the basement the other day. It’s been so cold outside the skin on my fingers has cracked open and now my thumbs have raw, gaping fissures just like you’d see if you were a crazed person hiking in the Mojave desert, only mine are painful and bloody.

The little pot of fancy skin butter I bought – which for some reason I hoped could transform even leathery old crocodile hide into something supple and glistening  – wasn’t getting the job done.

I figured I must need a little more pork fat in my diet.

As luck would have it, I saw a recipe for Slow-Cooker Cassoulet on the Williams-Sonoma website contributed by chef Thomas Keller. It made me and my dry skin salivate for some tender, braised pork.

I dusted off the old cooker and got to work adapting the recipe, going for a kind of Tuscan-style pork and beans with the addition of fresh rosemary and pancetta.

This recipe makes enough pork and beans for even-more-delicious-next-day leftovers.

Slow-Cooked Pork with White Beans and Rosemary

3 pounds boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces pancetta cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
1 large onion, chopped
2 leeks , white and light greens parts washed and chopped
1 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 28-ounce crushed tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
4 14-ounce cans Great Northern or cannellini beans, drained
2 ounces chorizo or other spicy sausage, sliced in half
1 garlic head, trimmed of excess papery skin and halved crosswise
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

Cut the pork into 4-inch chunks and season all over with the salt and pepper.
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy pan and brown the pork in batches. Remove the pork and place in a 6-quart slow-cooker insert.
Add the pancetta to the pan and cook until crisp on both sides, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Reserve the fat in the pan.
Add the onion and leek to the pan along with a ½ teaspoon salt and cook until softened. Add the wine and cook until reduced by half. Scrape the onion mixture into the insert.
Add all remaining ingredients to the cooker insert, stirring gently. Cook on medium for 6 hours, or until pork is very tender and easily shreds with a fork; stir in the reserved pancetta.

Serves 6 generously.

Inspired by Thomas Keller