Our rainy Colorado summer continues. Each day, not all day long, but typically in the afternoon or evening, we’re nearly overwhelmed by lightning storms and great, heavy rains we are unaccustomed to. Most years, a desperately needed now and then drizzle qualifies as a Colorado summer rain. Instead of that sweet pitty-pat every couple of weeks, there are regular and torrential downpours creating gullies and near-ditches where none have gone before. Streets are closed due to flooding; cars are stuck in rising water. Potted plants float and are emptied repeatedly and still rot. My two precious pots of rosemary (brought in over the winter and taken outdoors in the late spring) don’t know how to act; one has nearly expired.
While Rosie, our labradoodle puppy, has no trouble with the rumbling, grumbling, crashing, thunder or the moaning or beating rain, Tucker is a wreck–a new behavior for him. I can barely console him and often find 75 pounds of golden retriever in my lap. I know; he needs a thunder blanket. Sometimes I’ll “kennel” them together. We don’t use a real kennel but have our mudroom baby-gated and that seems to comfort him. Poor puppy.
One of the gorgeous things about near-mountain life (we live in the Front Range of the Rocky mountains up on the mesa on the west side of Colorado Springs), is the plethora of rainbows. We have many each year even with just a little rain; this year, we have bookoo displays weekly. The above beauty –they’re so hard to photograph– was snapped just off Highway 24 up near Cascade by my husband Dave while I was a church board meeting. Faithful Christian folk call rainbows, “God’s promise.” (Think Noah.) I can never help but think it. Right after I think about the pot of gold, that is. (Think Fred Astaire in “Finnian’s Rainbow.”)
The weather has kept us eating indoors when we are used to eating on the deck or patio all summer long. I think we’ve had four dinners outdoors so far and the Barbecue Pork Chop Salad was one of them. Dave, naturally, had a barbecue pork sandwich, pickled onions, and roasted potatoes with a side of slaw. I, shunning the bread in quest of a slimmer self, made a barbecue salad and why not? It was luscious and a couple of small potato pieces gave me just a teensy bit of carbs, which is fine. Skip them if need be. I threw on the pickled onions because I had them in the fridge. What a hit! The hub was happy and I didn’t have to do without summer barbecue. On the days summer is actually here, that is. (The other day I heard a woman say, “Welcome to the summer that wasn’t.”) Whatever your summer’s like this year, try this:
BBQ PORK CHOP SALAD
I allow about 3 ounces of meat per salad. If you’re a serious carnivore, you can make a chop for each person. Serves 4.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound asparagus, trimmed
- Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, crushed red pepper
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 large boneless pork chops, approximately 6 ounces each
- Canola oil
- 6 cups fresh greens, your choice
- 1 1/2 cups coleslaw (Recipe below; I like a simple vinegar slaw–no mayonnaise for this, but use what you like best.)
- 1 cup or more to taste barbecue sauce (recipe below)
- 1/2 cup pickled onions, garnish, optional (Recipe below)
- Oven-roasted potatoes, optional (I had some leftover. Need a recipe?)
1. In a large bowl, toss asparagus with oil and 1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes or grill over high heat, turning regularly, for about 5 minutes. Return to bowl and toss with Parmesan cheese. Set aside.
2. Brush the chops with canola oil and season well with salt and pepper. Cook the chops in a heavy skillet or in a stovetop grill on the stove or grill 4-5 minutes on each side until well-browned. Reduce heat and cook until pork chops are nearly done through–145 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from heat and let rest 2 minutes.
3. While the chops cook, divide fresh greens between serving plates, season with salt and pepper; add 1/2 cup coleslaw at the center of the greens. Place several spears of the reserved asparagus around the edges of the salads.
4. When chops have rested, slice thinly, and place in a skillet with the barbecue sauce; heat through, but don’t overcook.
5. Divide barbecued pork chop slices between the four serving plates and top each with a few pickled onions, if using. I also added a couple of roasted potatoes I had left from a previous meal. If you have some, it’s great; if not, skip them.
Coleslaw: Use this recipe, make your own, or buy at the deli. Skip the crushed red pepper if you don’t like the heat.
- 1 1/2 cups shredded cabbage, rinsed and patted dry in paper or cloth towels
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 tablespoons plain white vinegar (not wine vinegar)
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar or more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
Toss together all of the ingredients; adjust seasoning, including sugar and vinegar. (If you like, you can add shredded carrots or green apples.)
Barbecue Sauce–Use this recipe, make your own favorite, or buy a great bottle at the store.
2 cups each ketchup and chili sauce
1/4 cup each lemon juice and red wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons each yellow mustard, Worcestershire, A-1 Sauce
1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
4-5 Shakes of Tabasco or other hot sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons celery seed
Whisk together in a medium pot and bring to a boil over medium flame. Taste and adjust seasonings. Lower heat to simmer and let cook 30 minutes. Store leftovers in a tightly sealed jar for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. (This recipe is a riff on a great bbq sauce from the wonderful, but out-of-date Colorado cookbook BYTES–Colorado’s Family Friendly Cookbook. Sometimes there’s a used copy available; check used book sites or amazon.)
Pickled Onions–Leftovers are great for sandwiches or grilled chicken, fish, etc. I’m crazy about them this summer.
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 large red onion, sliced thinly
In a small bowl, mix all ingredients and let rest for an hour or so. (You’ll need to drain some of them to top the tuna. The remained will keep for a week or so covered in the vinegar in your fridge.)
WINE: While you know I’ll drink wine with about anything, the big bold vinegar flavors compete with wine here. A jammy California zinfandel is a typical accompaniment and is my first choice–or you might instead try a crisp summer beer like a Sam Adam’s Summer Ale, which is a bit like Blue Moon, but better!
Sing a new song,