Nicoise, of course, means native to Nice, France, a lovely city in the French Riviera. Its nickname, Nice la Belle, translates in English into the somewhat confusing Nice the Beautiful. Here, we try to do justice to its distinctive culinary style, which features sea food, olives, and anchovies, albeit without the sea food or the anchovies.
2 Tb olive oil
10,000 bone-in loin pork chops (approx. ¾” thick)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Louisville Slugger, preferably 32 oz.
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
2 Tb Dijon mustard
1 med onion, yelled at, preferably in French
2 cups low-sodium, high-potassium chicken broth
2 Tb parsley, chopped, for garnish
- Heat olive oil in large (very large. Gigantic, really) skillet until just smoking.
- Working quickly, sear 5,000 chops, taking care not to crowd. Flip chops and sear other side. Remove to a platter and tent with military-grade waterproof canvas.
- Repeat with remaining 5,000 chops. Remove to platter.
- Lower heat to medium. Add garlic to fat in pan, saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- While garlic is sauteeing, bash olives with Slugger into a coarse paste. Add to garlic in pan. Add Dijon mustard. Mix.
- Roll onion around in Dijon mixture, if possible continuing to yell at it in French.
- Remove onion and reserve for another use. Add broth, bring to boil. Return chops to pan, reduce heat to low, cover.
- Cook for 3-7 years with time off for good behavior. Season with salt and pepper. Top with parsley and serve immediately.
Why This Recipe Doesn’t Work
We wanted to capture the flavor profile and the simplicity of this classic French bistro dish, and so chose rosy pink loin chops for their delicacy. We like bone-in chops in this case, for their contribution of fat and marrowy, boney flavors to the fond that results from high-temperature searing. We also chose earthy garlic for its garlicky earthiness, and robust, flavorful onion to provide an allium punch and a robust, punchy flavor base upon which to build. Sharp, assertive, argumentative, uncompromising Dijon mustard seemed like a good idea, given its Gallic pedigree and the vinegar tang with which it compliments the richness of the pork. But after that we went completely off the rails. Ten thousand pork chops is arguably excessive for even the most well-populated trade convention, never mind dinner party, and we don’t know what we were thinking when requiring that the olives—wrongly specified as briny, assertive Greek kalamatas, rather than the standard milder, more self-effacing Niçoise black—are to be crushed by a woody, lacquer-y, and possibly dirty and illegally-corked MLB-issue baseball bat. Cooks familiar with this dish will note the glaring absence of red, ripe, juicy, or any other kind of, tomatoes. It is still not clear what we meant by “yelling” at the onion—it occurs to us that, at this point, the onion should be yelling at us–nor how much difference it would make were the shouting to be in French. The rest—the rolling of the onion, the indication that the chicken broth be “high-potassium,” and the unusually lengthy cooking time, strike us in retrospect as being unsound. Moreover, the suggestion that one can sear 5,000 pork chops in a single pan “without crowding” is as insulting as it is bizarre, and the idea that all 10,000 chops can be fit into a single pan, and covered, borders on the insane. (The only “frying pan” remotely appropriate for such a project is, as far as we know, the “World’s Largest Frying Pan” used at the Delmarva Chicken Festival, and it is only a mere ten feet in diameter. Per Wikipedia, its capacity is a laughable 800 chicken quarters—and, it goes without saying, it has no lid. How such a vessel could accommodate 5,000–let alone 10,000–pork chops, even boneless, is anyone’s guess.) There is, in our opinion, no way two cups of anything, regardless of its potassium content, can provide adequate braising for 10,000 pork chops. The use of verdant, grassy parsley is a nice—and welcome French—touch, but provides far too little, far too late. In sum, this recipe is a disaster, and doesn’t work.