Monday, June 22, 2009

Parallel Chops

One of the things I miss most about Dallas, Texas is the selection of markets. I miss the Fiesta Market for its large selection of Hispanic ingredients; I miss the Hong Market in Richardson for its large selection of Asian ingredients (Well in Jersey I do have a few of those pretty close); although I do not have to miss my Indian markets in Richardson, because they are almost on every corner of Jersey.

Hubby and I do miss living almost next door to Central Market. A hub of gigantic proportion of one stop retail and specialty shopping under one roof. Sure Whole Foods can provide much of what this store holds with my desire for organic, natural, and fresh global ingredients, but CM is the Disney World for foodies...

If you go over to the web site, or take a tour (yes you can call ahead and be given a tour by one of their valued employees), you will find out that H-E-B opened the first Central Market in Austin in 1994, have the store design explained, and how it was quickly dubbed “an amusement park for food lovers.” The European-style fresh market concept amazed shoppers and chefs alike, and the store quickly became one of Austin’s most popular tourist destinations. In fact, it boasts an average of 2 million visitors each year! Then somewhere down the line they got smart and opened them in our area. I had been to the original one in Austin and I was envious!

My favorite market is filled with produce, ethnic ingredients, chocolates and candies, dry goods, frozen foods, a deli next to the huge bread department that is around the corner from the ready made foods for that "Oh, I do not feel like cooking all this stuff in my basket tonight" moment, and many more rows of ingredients you might want. Hubby's favorite is the large wine and beer selection. That is like a hubby day-care for me. I can shop for hours, and when I am ready to leave I just go to that department and pick him up!

We took my friends here in Little Elm who had never ventured into Central Market, and they were amazed. When we hit the meat and seafood department...their jaws dropped. Purchasing some brisket, ribs, a pork roast (pulled pork post), and some big pork chops...I was determined to have 'death by meat' on this trip. I knew I was saving up the past months with my healthy cooking and eating, but hey its vacation and at least I am cooking much of the time.

Take the chops out and placed them in a brine over night of some brown sugar, garlic and salt water. The next day bake them with a Chicago style seasoning (my friends hubby is from Chicago and a big fan of this mixture... hickory smoke, Tellicherry black pepper, sugar, onion, garlic, lemon zest and citric acid), a sprinkle of brown sugar along with a pat of butter for a nice crispy coating. They came out very juicy, and tender. Everyone was satisfied with this meal.

I also took some red onions, walnuts, and caramelized them with brown sugar. This was a nice addition to some baked white potatoes, and a can of french style green beans (I am anti-can anything, and only cook fresh; unless you are desperate) they keep in the pantry. I have some time left on my vacation, and I plan on hitting them one more time...

If you are in the area of one of these Texas towns; then I recommend you visit one of my favorite parallel markets...

Central Market Locations:

* Austin-North Lamar
* Austin-Westgate
* Houston
* San Antonio
* Dallas
* Plano
* Fort Worth
* Southlake
* Cafe on the Run at H-E-B (only in the Austin area)

Come back later on and see what I do with this CM purchase...