Sunday, November 28, 2010

Honey Curry Glazed Pork Chop with Escalloped Potatoes

     I served a chicken that was prepared with this simple glaze to friends who worked for British Airways in the early 1980's.  One of the friends who was a British Airways mechanic had a brother who was the executive chef for same airline.
     They wanted the recipe!  My simple honey curry glazed chicken recipe was put on the flight menu occasionally, by the British Airways executive chef!  British Airways served some very nice food for inflight meals at that time.  My honey curry glaze recipe went world famous the easy way, by being served by an international airline!  The British love curry spices, so the glaze was well received by the airline's patrons.
     This style of escalloped potato was one that I learned while working for a Swiss chef at a busy fine seafood restaurant.  The escalloped potatoes are firm enough to be cut into shapes.  The technique is simple.  All that needs to be done is to refrigerate the firm escalloped potato, before slicing, so the ingredients gel.
      If you ever had a job doing airline food, then you know concessions have to be made as to how the food will be prepared, because of extended holding times.  I grew up in the restaurant business as a kid in a great Mexican restaurant.  Later during high school, I washed dishes and learned seafood prep work at a very busy Florida seafood restaurant.  The next tourist season, I took on a job bussing tables at a resort hotel.  While bussing tables one day, the cook quit the job and I was asked if I wanted to learn how to cook.  Of course I accepted the cook job and I learned high volume breakfast cooking from a chef that had worked at the Naval base in San Diego.  This chef was used to cooking for over 15,000 people per meal.  I learned every cooking shortcut technique for cooking food quickly and accurately.  I soon became able to cook for busloads of customers by myself with no help.
     One of the duties of my job, after breakfast and lunch hours had ended, was to cook food for the local airline each day.  It was not really a big modern airline that I prepared food for.  This was a tropical resort community and the local airline was comprised of three very old DC-3 propeller driven airplanes.  Every veteran pilot in the world has fond memories about how tough and rugged that DC-3's were.  A DC-3 could fly on one sputtering engine through the worst tropical storms with no problem!
     DC-3's were not the smoothest ride in the sky, but they were one of the safest.  DC-3's were perfect for Florida and the caribbean, because they could handle adverse tropical storm flying conditions and they did not require long runways.  DC-3's were also very popular with smugglers for the for the same reasons, but that is a branch of this story that I will write about at some other time.
     In flight meals were served on the DC-3's by the local little island hopper airline.  I prepared the meals for the little airline in the afternoons.  Everything had to be cooked, so after being held in hot boxes for 2 hours, it would not be overcooked.  Every butcher knows what an airline chicken breast is.  It is a boneless chicken breast with the bone attached.  Most of the meals for the island hopper airline were airline chicken breasts that were dressed up in a variety of ways.
     One of the concessions made to the food for a small airline with a fleet of DC-3 island hoppers was for the food had to be made in a way that would lessen the risk of spills or messes.  During tropical storms, "air pockets" in a stormy sky can drop a plane hundreds of feet with no warning and everything that is not nailed down will float in the air!  Meals and passengers bouncing in their seats or off of the cabin ceiling was a common sight.  Loose thin sauces are taboo on small island hopper airline food.  Every sauce has to be thickened, so it clings to the entree.  Serving temperatures of the food has to be in a low but safe range to prevent burns.  Just forget about complex modern presentations of the island hopper airline food, because after the roller coaster ride experience of a plane passing through a series of air pockets is over, the food is going to be rearranged as it lands back on the plate!    
     Cooking food for a small airline came in handy later in my career for preparing boxed lunches for large convention attendees at large tropical resorts.  Boxed lunches are a big item in Las Vegas casinos, because of the booming convention business.  Not everybody at a large convention of over 100,000 attendees has time to dine at a banquet facility during the show.  Boxed lunches are passed to those who are busy doing the convention hand shaking duties.  Las Vegas convention boxed lunches can be very interesting gourmet meals.
     Preparing airline food or boxed lunches for conventions is fun work.  Everything is done in an assembly line fashion, but it never seems like tedious work.  The whole process of this style of food moves very fast.  This is a good area for new cooks in the food industry who want to learn agility skills in a high volume environment.    
     Escalloped Potato Recipe:
     This recipe makes 2 to 3 portions!
     Cut 2 peeled russet potatoes into very thin slices.
     Place the potato slices side by side on a large sheet pan.
     Lightly dust the potato slices with flour.
     Place the dusted potato slices into a mixing bowl.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 2 cloves of chopped garlic.
     Add 1 cup of milk.
     Place 2 egg whites into a seperate mixing bowl.
     Whisk the egg whites, till medium stiff meringue peaks are formed.
     Add the meringue to the potatoe mixture.
     Gently fold the ingredients together.
     Place the potato mixure into a small high sided baking pan that is brushed with melted unsalted butter.
     Arrange the potato mixture in the pan, so it is an even 1/2" thick layer.
     Bake the escalloped potatoes in a 350 degree oven, till the potatoes become a very light white and gold color.
     Allow the potatoes to cool to room temperature.
     Refrigerate the par baked escalloped potatoes for 1 hour.
     Slice the potatoes into triangle shaped portions.
     Place 1 escalloped potato triangle on a buttered pie tin.
     Bake the escalloped potato triangle in a 350 degree oven, till golden brown highlights appear.
     Keep the escalloped potato triangle warm on a stove top.
     You can plate this kind of escalloped potato vertically if you wish.  The escalloped potato becomes firm when using this cooking technique, yet it remains moist.
     Honey Curry Glaze Recipe:
     Place 2 ounces of honey into a small bowl.
     Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of rice vinegar.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of turmeric.
     Add 2 teaspoons of garam masala curry powder.
     Add 1 pinch of  cumin.
     Add 1 pinch of coriander.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of ginger paste.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Set the glaze aside.
     Honey Curry Glazed Pork Chop Recipe:
     Trim the excess fat off of a 6 to 8 ounce pork chop.
     Season the pork chop with 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Heat a saute pan over medium heat.
     Pan sear the pork chop on both sides, till the pork chop is almost fully cooked and brown highlights appear.
     Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.
     Heat a small saute pan over medium low heat.
     Place the honey curry glaze into the pan.
     Place the seared pork chop in the honey glaze.
     Heat the glaze and pork chop together.
     Flip the pork chop a few times in the glaze, so it becomes well coated.
     Honey Curry Glazed Pork Chop with Escalloped Potatoes: 
     Place the glazed pork chop on a plate.
     Place the escalloped potato next to the pork chop.
     Place a vegetable of your choice next to the escalloped potato.
     This is a nice clean looking plate of food!  There are no runny saucy escalloped potatoes creating a mess on the plate.  The honey curry glaze has one of those great flavors that is hard to stop eating, once the first bite is tasted.  This is one great tasting pork chop!  The original chicken version is nice with this glaze too.  This is a meal that is perfect for a small airline or home!  Yum!  ...  Shawna

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