We had no way of knowing when we chose to have this last week that it would present us with an appropriate meal over which to toast Charlie Trotter’s life and recall the immense influence he had on our lives. The recipe for this dish comes from The Kitchen Sessions by Charlie Trotter and quite coincidentally this is the meal we had the evening following the announcement of Charlie Trotter’s death.
Several years ago now Erin’s oldest brother made this dish for their parents and I’m pretty sure it blew their socks off. Erin and I were living in Chicago at the time, so we were excited to see on one of our trips to Trotters-To-Go various bottled sauces, including the Thai bbq sauce that this dish calls for. Whilst not an amazingly hard sauce to create, you do need quite a few ingredients; personally I think it takes more time getting the ingredients and putting them all together than it does to actually cook the sauce). So we purchased a bunch and gave them to her brother and dad for Christmas that year and in subsequent years.
I remember listening to Jack, Erin’s dad, talk about how great this recipe was and how really simple it was, especially with the use of the bottled bbq sauce. Not quite two years ago, a few months after Jack passed away, Erin’s mom, grandmother and aunt were all coming to visit us and I needed to feed them something that was tasty, relatively easy and for the most part could be prepared in advance. Browsing through the many of Jack’s cookbooks which Erin’s mom and family were gracious enough to have given me, I settled on making this, though since we now lived in North Carolina I had no access to the bottled sauce and would have to make it from scratch.
The sauce really can be made days, if not weeks, in advance and either frozen or canned (if you decide to can it the sauce does make for a great gift). None of the ingredients are hard to obtain now that Asian ingredients are easily found in most grocery stores. But if you do have an Asian grocery store nearby I recommend going there as the quality of ingredients like hoisin sauce, plum sauce and soy sauce are all going to be better, not to mention quite a bit cheaper.
For this iteration I made the sauce a day in advance, braised the pork chops (the recipe actually calls for wild boar chops which I’ve never seen at a butcher shop let alone a grocery store) the day of which takes 2 1/2 – 3 hours, and in the last hour while the sauce was reducing made the rice and sweated the mushrooms and shallots. The techniques used are not complex at all, but the depth of flavor makes for a great dish on a cold evening.