Thursday, September 15, 2011

Tolerating Green Beans (with pork chops)

My dear sweet hubs is a picky eater.  To the extreme.  He does not eat casseroles, pasta, rice, whipped cream, nuts, anything mixed together, or any vegetables other than corn & potatoes (which are starches of course...).  Typical meals for him consist of some kind of meat, 3 rolls, and maybe corn or potato if we're being "fancy."  With my love of all types & varieties of food, I tend to make him his favorites (all time favorite is chicken cordon bleu) and make something more healthy or interesting for me.  For the first several years of our marriage, he would eat chicken cordon bleu around 3 times a week with some kind of sandwich the other days.  I always told him "if you are going to be picky, you have no right to have variety!"

Well, something crazy has happened in the past several months as I have been couponing and buying different kinds of meat as it is on sale--he has started branching out!  He realized that with some of the new recipes I make that we would both eat the same thing for dinner, and for some reason he feels like that is better than us eating different things...even if we're still eating together.  So we have started regularly doing pork loin, flank steak sandwiches (salad for me), pioneer woman's filet au poivre, pork chops, and parmesan crusted chicken.  I've been excited to try new recipes, and I love seeing him try new things and enjoy it!  Still, his willingness to try new things has been mostly confined to new meat dishes or sauces that he knows are "safe" and that he will really like.

Well, as I was planning out our meals for this week I informed him that Wednesday night we would be having pork chops w/mashed potatoes.  A few hours later he shocked me.  He came into the kitchen and said "I would like you to make some green beans for dinner Wednesday night.  I think I should try 'your take' on them."  I almost fell off my chair!  Now for years (10 to be exact) hubs has told me that he can "tolerate green beans", yet I have never in any of those years seen him once "tolerate a green bean."  His excuse has always been, "why would I eat something I don't love if I don't have to?"  So this was a big deal.  However, let's just be honest, I did not have high hopes for him to actually like my green beans.  I saute them in garlic & olive oil w/a sprinkling of kosher salt & pepper--which is delicious--but I pretty much knew that they would still taste too much like actual green beans for him to get over his aversion. 

So last night I made our dinner: pork chops with an apple sauce (not applesauce), garlic mashed potatoes, green beans, and rolls.  Quick to put together and quite yummy if I do say so myself...though you have three pans on the stove at the same time so that can get crazy. 

Then it was time for the big test--would he like the beans?

trying them...
don't know if you can tell...but that is not a happy face :(
can you see butch peeking her head at him?  she is willing to try any of his food at all!

So...they weren't exactly a hit.  No real surprise there.  I think you just like green beans or you don't!  But I was proud of him.  He ate several bites of the portion that I gave him (making sad faces between each bite).  And then he said the thing that warmed my heart so much!  He looked at me and said "When we have kids, and you make green beans, I will eat them too."  Now that may seem like a silly little insignificant thing to some people but to me it's huge.  For a long time we have talked about how I worry about handling mealtimes.  I want to raise my future children to try new things and be open to new experiences--food, culture, travel, etc...  While I adore my husband, we are limited in where we go to eat and even options to travel by his picky palate.  How can we instill good eating habits when that is not modeled?  He has always stubbornly stuck to him right to be picky: "I can do what I want if I'm the Dad."  But for him to willingly eat something that he doesn't like--to me it shows so much growth!  He is more concerned with doing the best thing and making me happy than he is about not liking the food in front of him.  My man is growing up :).

Now my mashed potatoes & green beans are pretty basic recipes--some garlic in each, season to taste, etc...but I really enjoy & want to share this pork chop recipe.  Hope you enjoy it with your picky eater!

Pork Chops with Apple Sauce
adapted from Food Network Magazine

1/4 or 1/2 inch bone-in pork chops
ground sage
kosher salt & pepper to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
approx. 1 tbsp finely diced onion (you can leave it bigger but hubs does NOT like onion)
3 small granny smith or golden delicious apples, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3/4 cup apple juice or apple cider
approx 1/2 tsp cornstarch

Rub both side of pork chops w/sage, salt, & pepper to taste.  Heat a large cast-iron skillet over med-high heat, then add approx one tsp. olive oil & sear chops until golden on both sides, about 4 minutes total.  Transfer chops to a plate.  Add remaining 2 tsp olive oil, then add apple & onion & cook until softened, about 5 min.  Season w/salt & pepper and stir in apple juice.

Return chops to the skillet.  Cook (can cover) turning once, until cooked through, 4-5 min.  Remove chops to a plate, whisk corn starch into apple sauce, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 min.  Pour sauce over chops or put on the side for dipping.