Front Burner: Carrie Nahabedian

August 2008: Roast Rack of Pork with Summer Salad and Succotash

THE CHEF

Carrie Nahabedian made her bones at old-school Chicago spots such as Le Français, Le Perroquet, Sinclair’s, and the Ritz-Carlton. After serving as the executive chef of the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, she returned to her hometown to open Naha in River North. The “simple, functional interior,” designed by her cousin, Tom Nahabedian, was 180 degrees from Gordon, which held court in the space for nearly a quarter of a century. Carrie’s seasonal American menu, reflecting her Armenian roots, was good enough to nab her a 2008 James Beard Foundation Award for best chef in the Great Lakes region.

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Carrie Nahabedian’s Roast Rack of Pork with Summer Salad and Succotash

salad
1 pound tender baby arugula (do not tear the leaves)
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
3 white or yellow nectarines, julienned
Kosher salt & cracked black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

succotash
12 cipolline (small white onions)
Olive oil
2 ears of corn, shucked
Sweet butter
1 small bunch chives, chopped
Flowering thyme
1 pound fava beans, shucked and blanched
¼ pound La Quercia Prosciutto,
                         cut in ¼-inch-thick slices, then in ¼-inch-wide lardons
Kosher salt & cracked black pepper

pork
1 large pork rack
Olive oil
Kosher salt & cracked black pepper
Flowering thyme

*Farm and product notes below.

SALAD

1. Using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, thinly slice the fennel widthwise (against the grain). Cover with a wet paper towel to keep the fennel crisp. Set aside.

2. Julienne the nectarines on a mandoline or by hand, using a good utility knife. Set aside.

3. Rinse, spin, and completely dry the arugula. Place in a mixing bowl. Add the fennel and nectarines.

4. Cover the salad with a wet paper towel to keep crisp and refrigerate.

Hint: Do not dress or season the salad until you are ready to plate the pork or your greens will wilt.

SUCCOTASH

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Place cipolline in a shallow baking pan or on a cookie sheet with 2 tablespoons olive oil and roast for approximately 15 minutes, or until tender.

Hint: The onions should be firm enough to push them out of their skins.

When the onions are cool, remove the skins and cut into quarters. Set aside.

Hint: This would be a good time to start the pork. You can finish prepping the succotash while the pork is roasting.

3. Using a sharp knife, shuck the kernels off the cob. Over low-to-medium heat, sauté the kernels in a generous amount of sweet butter and season with kosher salt and cracked back pepper. Cook the corn until the juices are released and the sweet flavor comes out. This should take about 4 minutes. Do not brown the corn.

Hint: Taste the corn while cooking to check for sweetness.

4. Add in the chopped chives and the cipolline and crumble some flowering thyme into the mixture. Remove from the burner but keep on the stovetop, so the mixture stays warm.

5. Shuck the fava beans out of their pods, blanch them in boiling salted water, and refresh in ice water. Peel the outer skin and set aside.

PORK

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Season the pork generously with kosher salt and cracked black pepper and drizzle generously with olive oil. Arrange some flowering thyme along the top of the pork roast.

3. Place in a roasting pan with a rack for 20 minutes until the pork starts to turn a golden brown and the skin begins to crackle.

4. Baste the pork rack with the pan drippings. Lower the oven to 350 degrees and continue roasting. Baste the pork while it roasts (for maximum richness) until it is cooked medium (160 degrees on a meat thermometer), approximately 40 minutes.

5. Let the pork rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Use this time to finish the succotash and toss the salad.

6. The succotash: In a heavy sauté pan, cook the lardons over a medium-to-high flame until the fat starts to render and the prosciutto starts to slightly crisp. Add in the cipolline, corn, and fava beans and continue to sauté until the beans are tender and hot. This should take 4 to 5 minutes.

7. The salad: Season the salad with kosher salt and pepper—keeping in mind that arugula has a natural peppery flavor—and toss with extra virgin olive oil.

8. Slice the pork rack into thick chops and place on serving platter.

9. Spoon the succotash over the chops; top the succotash with the summer salad.

10. Drizzle some of the rich pan juices around the pork and serve.

 

*Chef Nahabedian’s farm and product notes
The farmers of the Green City Market in Lincoln Park sell most of the items listed. The pork rack I used is from Davenport, Iowa, but you can use other local family pork farmers for a similar product. You can also pre-order a pork rack from one of the meat farmers at the Green City Market as well.

The La Quercia prosciutto is available at Fox & Obel.

Questions? Write to naha-chicago.com.

 

Film: Uji Films

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