Serious Eats: Recipes

Classic Cookbooks: An Impressive Pork Loin Dinner from Marcella Hazan

When I read the comments on my first post about Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. I realized that I had underestimated the delicacy of the thumbnail biographer’s task. As an educated, experienced woman who brings home the bacon (okay, a small piece of bacon, but still) and cooks it up for her husband every night of the week, I never considered the possibility that I could be somehow insulting Marcella Hazan by writing that she learned to cook to feed her husband (something she herself has said), and I didn’t mean to imply that a woman who teaches herself to cook is necessarily without other accomplishments (such as Hazan’s doctorates in natural sciences and in biology). Heck, even if we didn’t have her amazing career to demonstrate what a formidable woman she is, we have her writing, so full of authority and character it leaves no doubt about the intelligence and strength of personality behind the words. I certainly meant no disrespect! I know most of us cook because we ourselves love food and being in the kitchen, but don’t we love to feed other people, too?

Perhaps, however, I really am a domesticated throwback to the bad old days. I don’t vacuum in heels and pearls (it is—and my mother should stop reading here—a good week when I vacuum at all), but check out this lovely Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking-inspired meal I made for my mother-in-law when she was in town last week: boiled Swiss chard salad, pork loin braised in milk, Swiss chard stalks gratinéed with Parmesan cheese, roast potatoes and parsnips, and tangerine sorbet served in frozen tangerine shells. My mother-in-law—a busy psychiatrist, a talented seamstress and knitter, a fine cook, and an all-around do-it- and fix-it-yourself handywoman of seemingly limitless energy—doesn’t put a lot of stock in this wifely-graces business (and neither, to be honest, does my husband), but am I a good little woman or what? I’m going to go polish the silver and iron some shirts while you read these recipes, but before I go, let me say that the tangerine sorbet was my favorite, really delicious and fun.

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