Good morning. I went to high school near La Caridad 78, a Cuban-Chinese restaurant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan that closed in July, a victim of the coronavirus. I ate there so often I’m hard-pressed to put a number to it, most happily with the architecture critic Michael Kimmelman, who loved the place probably more than I did, and I loved it a lot.
This weekend, at long last, I intend to pay homage to the restaurant’s memory, and make my favorite Caridad meal: pork chops in black bean sauce, with yellow rice, black beans and a platter of maduros. Won’t you join me? You won’t be sorry.
We have an ace recipe for maduros (above), thanks to Kiera Wright-Ruiz. Make those and keep them warm in the oven. Easy. You can crisp them up again just before serving.
The rice and beans are also simple. For the rice, you can use David Tanis’s recipe, or tip a bunch of sazón spice mixture into the rice cooker, which I’m fairly certain is what they used to do at Caridad. As for the black beans, Pete Wells adapted the Cuban chef Eduardo Machado’s recipe for black beans a few years back, and you can use that. You can make those both ahead of time as well, and keep warm until you’re ready.
But the pork chops? That’s a no-recipe recipe affair, made on the fly. You’ll need the Chinese fermented black beans known as douchi as well as thin pork chops, on the bone, chopped garlic and ginger and a slurry of cornstarch and water. First, put a few tablespoons of the fermented black beans into a small bowl with some water or chicken stock. This will take out of them some salty zing and replace it with plumpness and deep flavor. Then, set a large cast-iron pan or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat and put a glug of neutral oil into it. When the oil begins to shimmer and is about to smoke, lay as many pork chops into the pan as you can without crowding them, and sear them good and hard on one side, so they get some color. That’ll take a few minutes. Turn them and cook them briefly on the other side, then remove to a warm platter. Repeat with remaining pork chops.
To put everything together, reduce the heat under the empty pan a little, and then fry the garlic and ginger until it is fragrant and sizzling, then add a few heaping tablespoons of the soaked fermented black beans to the pan along with a splash of water and the cornstarch slurry. Mix that together, then add the pork chops and whatever juices they’ve released and toss them with tongs until everything’s glistening and the sauce has thickened.
Serve with the rice and beans, the maduros and plenty of hot sauce. You’ll sleep well this night, absolutely.
Canadians, meanwhile, are planning for their Thanksgiving on Monday. We’ve got a full spread of appropriate recipes for those interested in cooking along, along with ones specific to Canada itself. (You may want to have some butter tarts on hand, for a dessert before you serve dessert.)
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Now, it’s nothing to do with pralines or cocoa, but I’m learning a lot by reading, in The Times, Benjamin Hoffman’s predictions for each week of the N.F.L. season. Check those out. Guy can write.
Here’s Charles Simic in The Threepenny Review with a poem that’s bigger than it seems, “The Wind Has Died.”
Finally, here’s Hazel Scott singing Gershwin’s “A Foggy Day” live in 1955. Wow. I’ll see you on Sunday.