Lunch at home is usually simple and has a leaning towards rice-based dishes more than pasta. That's because my daughter and I are more partial to it and lunch is usually mom and daughter time. Rice for her should always be white sprinkled with a lot of parmigiano reggiano (parmesan) and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil but I try to introduce other ingredients other than her perennial condiments. Just a slice of zucchini takes the whole lunch time, a lot of tears and promises to convince her to eat it but I am always positive because at least she took that slice.
Photographing food is fun but entails a lot of work. However, there's another aspect that we never discuss. Controlling ourselves from poking the food to eat. Yes, sometimes it's hard not to eat a little piece while looking through the lens. It's an invitation that's hard to resist. I always look at most of my food compositions as subjects to photograph, rarely as food to eat. But there are exceptions, like this rice. I couldn't resist this one.
I find dry rubbing the pork chops with coarse salt and roasting them in the oven as the best way to enjoy them. If there's no oven available, I just fry it in a saucepan, always with the same dry rub. This saffron rice is one of the most rewarding recipe I came up with. It has all the flavors that appeals to the taste then eating a plainly salted hot pork chop with it was perfect.
Pork Chops and Saffron Rice With Zucchini, Peas and Pancetta
- 1 cup uncooked basmati rice
- 2 cups water
- 125 milligrams or a pinch of saffron pistils or powder
- 1 cardamom pod
- Fine salt
- Coarse salt
- 400 grams baby zucchini (or regular zucchini), round slices
- 200 grams peas (frozen or fresh)
- 200 grams smoked pancetta (or regular pancetta)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 4 pork chops
- Over high heat in a medium saucepot, boil the basmati rice with 2 cups of water, cardamom and saffron. When it boils, put down the flame to the lowest heat, cover (not completely, with about 1/2 inch opening) and simmer for 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked through.
- Pre-heat oven to 200°C. Prepare the pork chops in a baking pan, rubbing them with rock salt and pepper. Leave them in the oven until they become brown, about 20 minutes depending on the size of the pork chops.
- In the meantime, in another large saucepan with oil over medium - high heat, sauté the zucchini slices until brownish. Keep on tossing to avoid burning. Season with salt & pepper. Transfer them to a bowl. Set aside.
- In the same saucepan, sauté the pancetta until crispy and brownish. Set them aside.
- In the same saucepan, add a little bit of oil and sauté the peas until tender. Set them aside.
- Still in the same saucepan with oil, combine the cooked rice, peas, zucchini & pancetta. Add more oil if still needed.
- Sprinkle with parsley. Season with salt & pepper.
- Serve with the pork chops.