Muffuletta Pork Chops and Zydeco Green Beans
Way, way back in the day, folks in Acadiana would hold a bal de maison, or house dance for their friends and neighbors. You’d let everybody know by putting a flag on your fence by the road. Food was served and it was a night of music and socializing for the whole family. Another name for these dances is fais do do, which is Louisiana-French baby talk for “go to sleep.” Baby sitters weren’t a thing then, but the dances would run late. So the kids would pile into a back room to sleep. As kids are wont to do, they often popped up and ran back out into the action, and their mamas would admonish them by saying, “fais do do,” so she could get back to the fun.
Occasionally the fare served at the dance was meager. So the host might pass the word that, les haricots sont pas salé, “the green beans aren’t salty,” meaning that the beans were without pork. In French, les haricots would be pronounced, “lay zarico,” and eventually zarico morphed into zydeco and became the name for the music that was played at the dance. Originally French-speaking Cajuns and Creoles all played the same music. Starting at the end of World War II, Cajun music kind of went country and zydeco picked up on rhythm and blues.
My recipe for Zydeco Green Beans is made with tasso, but you could use bacon or pancetta. And instead of white (or as they say around here, Irish) potatoes, you can substitute sweet.
For the pork chops, we salute New Orleans and their iconic sandwich, the muffuletta. Not especially paleo, the muffuletta’s signature element is the olive salad. I love salsas and relishes with meat and poultry, and this addition makes for a nice change from gravy or a pan sauce. The whole meal is quick and easy, and delicious, too.
My playlist reflects the dishes with tunes by bands that play in and around New Orleans and a bunch of my favorite zydeco songs. Originally the playlist was two-and-a-half hours long, and obviously I’ve left out whole genres of Louisiana music. If I’d included the many forms of jazz, swamp pop, and Cajun, there’d be two-and-a-half days of music … with too much left out. So this will give you a taste.
- 4 thick cut pork chops
- Cajun/Creole seasoning or salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste
- 1 cup giardiniera chopped
- 1/2 cup olives mixed, green and black, pitted and chopped
- 1/4 cup roasted peppers chopped
- 3 tbsp olive oil organic, extra virgin
- 1 tbsp ghee or lard or coconut oil
Season pork chops and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a 12-inch, ovenproof skillet over medium high heat, melt the ghee. Add the pork chops and brown, without moving, for 5 minutes. Turn the chops and brown the second side, 5 minutes.
Place skillet in the oven and cook for about 5 minutes. Check the internal temperature of the chops with an instant read thermometer. This will depend on the thickness of the chops. They should be 160 degrees F. If needed, continue to cook, checking temperature every 5 minutes.
Serve immediately, topped with olive salad.
- 2 medium potatoes white or sweet, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 lb green beans trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 medium onion coarsely chopped
- 1 tbsp ghee or coconut oil or lard
- 4 oz tasso chopped, or bacon or pancetta
- Cajun/Creole seasoning to taste, or salt, pepper and cayenne
In a medium to large sauce pan add potatoes and cover with cold, salted water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes.
Add green beans and continue cooking until beans and potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
Drain vegetables and set aside. Return sauce pan to the stove and add ghee over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 4-5 minutes or until translucent.
Add tasso and cook for 5 minutes. Do not let the onions brown. Add potatoes and beans and toss, heating everything through and add Cajun/Creole seasoning to taste.