Four 6- to 8-ounce pork rib chops, pounded 1/3 inch thick
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons Cognac or other brandy
3/4 cup heavy cream
How to Make It
In a medium heatproof bowl, soak the morels in the boiling water until softened, about 30 minutes. Rub the morels to dislodge any grit, then lift them out of the soaking liquid and coarsely chop any large ones. Reserve the soaking liquid.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Put the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes, or until richly browned. Transfer the hazelnuts to a kitchen towel and let cool completely. Rub the nuts together in the towel to remove the skins, then coarsely chop. In a food processor, pulse the hazelnuts until a coarse powder. Leave the oven on.
Spread the ground hazelnuts and the flour in 2 shallow bowls. In a third shallow bowl, beat the eggs with a fork.
Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. Dredge a pork chop first in the flour, shake off any excess and then dip it in the egg. Coat the pork chop with the ground hazelnuts and transfer it to a platter. Repeat with the remaining pork chops and coatings.
In a large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Working in 2 batches, cook the pork chops over moderate heat until browned, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the chops to a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 4 minutes, or until barely pink in the center.
Meanwhile, wipe out the skillet with a paper towel. Add the butter and melt over moderate heat. Reduce the heat to low. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until golden, about 3 minutes. Add the brandy and carefully light with a long match. When the flames die down, add the morels. Slowly pour in the reserved morel soaking liquid, stopping when you reach the grit. Simmer over moderately low heat until reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 5 minutes. Add the cream and simmer until thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.
Set the pork chops on plates, spoon the morel sauce around them and serve.
Wine Recommendation: The hazelnuts, cream and morels here have a natural affinity for the taste and texture of a Chardonnay. Pick a medium-bodied, barrel-aged exam-ple such as the 2000 Sanford Santa Barbara or the 1999 Chiaranda del Merlo Contessa Entellina from Sicily.
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This dish was good; think it needs some tweaking, though. I made it almost to the letter, except I had to use porcinis instead of morels since that is all I had on hand. And I used some hazelnuts that were already chopped in combination with the whole ones I toasted. I will make this again, but I will do the following modifications: just use all chopped/processor-ready hazelnuts (was a big mess to try the towel thing), will season pork with fresh cracked pepper (used fine ground this time), instead of veggie oil, will use butter, will use waaay less cream--I think a 1/4 cup could suffice, and will be sure to salt the sauce really well before serving. The brandy lighting part scared me since I'd never done it before, but it doesn't flame up very much/wasn't as bad as I thought :) I served it with rosemary potatoes, which worked well, and I think it could go with any potatoes, to be honest.
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