Pork Strips with Broccoli and Carrots

Fettucce di Maiale Stufate con Broccoli e Carote

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It has always intrigued me to note that of all the cuisines of the world the Italian has far less in common with those of its Latin neighbors Spain and France than it does with that of China. Both Italy and China make pasta, for example, to cite one of the most obvious parallels. But their culinary paths draw close in so many other ways: in their direct handling of ingredients, in the many quick-cooked dishes, in the integration of vegetables with meat or fish, in pairing sweet with sour.

When I first saw strips of pork with broccoli stems and carrots cut into thin sticks in this dish I wondered who the Chinese cook was in the kitchen. But it was the kitchen of my mother’s house in Cesenatico and there was no one there but my mother’s devoted companion Romana, the woman from Bari who looked after her during the last years of her long life. When I told Romana what my impression had been she didn’t know what to make of it. “Ma va! Go on! Do the Chinese really eat pork and anchovies?” I couldn’t say. Do they, I wonder?

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Ingredients

  • A bunch of broccoli, about pounds
  • 4 or 5 medium carrots
  • 3 flat anchovy fillets, preferably the ones prepared at home
  • 1 pound pork loin
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • cup dry white wine
  • Salt
  • Black pepper ground fresh

Method

  1. Detach the largest stems of the broccoli. Using a sharp paring knife, pare away their hard, dark green rind, exposing the tender, paler core. Cut them into sticks about ½ inch thick and 2 inches long. You should get about cups. Soak briefly in cold water and drain well. (You can boil what remains of the bunch and dress it with olive oil and vinegar for a warm salad or use it in a soup.)
  2. Peel the carrots and trim them down into sticks the same size as the broccoli. You should have about cups.
  3. Chop the anchovies very, very fine, to a pulp.
  4. Cut the pork into strips about ½ inch wide and thick and 3 inches long. Put them in a bowl, pour the flour over them, and turn them over to coat them evenly.
  5. Choose a skillet that will contain all your ingredients in a single layer with little overlapping, put in the olive oil and garlic, and turn on the heat to medium. Cook the garlic, stirring frequently, just until tiny bubbles appear in the pan and the garlic’s scent begins to rise.
  6. Turn the heat up to high and put in all the meat. As soon as you have browned one side, turn it over and do the other side. Add the broccoli and carrot sticks, and turn them over several times to coat them well. Add the chopped anchovies and the white wine. Let the wine bubble a few seconds, briskly stirring the contents of the pan, then turn the heat down to medium low and cover the pan. Cook at a gentle but regular simmer for about 15 or 20 minutes, occasionally turning over the contents of the pan, until the vegetables feel quite tender when tested with a fork. During that time, you will probably need to replenish the cooking juices to keep the food from sticking to the pan. Add up to 3 tablespoons of water whenever it becomes necessary. Taste to adjust for salt, add liberal grindings of black pepper, turn all ingredients over once or twice, then transfer to a warm platter and serve at once.

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