“Vatti vatti due!” In my mind’s eye, I can see Poppy as he speaks these words in the dialect familiar to those with roots in southern Italy. He’s likely shaking a thick finger for emphasis. “What does that mean, Poppy?” “Keep your nose clean!”
Euuuw. To my young ears, that was a strange visual. And it was only years later I finally learned those words in Italian, not phonetics: “Fatti i fatti tuoi!” Loosely translated: “Mind your own business!”
Our family business was food–literally. All of us inherited a love for great food: cooking it, eating it, baking it, making it our own somehow. For now, let’s get cookin’! This is a killer dish!
PORK CHOPS WITH SWEET AND HOT PEPPERS
with bonus lessons in Italian and life, no extra charge
2 pork chops, 1 inch thick
salt and pepper to season both sides of the chops
all-purpose flour to coat the chops
enough olive oil for bottom of your skillet
2-3 garlic cloves, pressed
½ a large sweet onion, sliced
one orange bell pepper (or yellow or red) sliced
2 tablespoons of sliced cherry peppers in vinegar (maybe less if you’re not a heat seeker, but I liked it!)
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon brine from cherry peppers
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/3 a lemon, squeezed
Flat leaf parsley, a handful of it, chopped
Season both sides of the chops with salt and pepper. Coat with flour, shake off excess. Add olive oil to cover the bottom of a skillet, place over medium heat. Add the chops and cook five minutes per side. Move chops to a plate; cover with foil.
Add more oil to the skillet—it’s time to cook the sweet peppers, onions and garlic. Get the rosemary in there, too. Saute, stirring frequently, for about five minutes. Add hot cherry peppers and about a tablespoon of their brine with wine, lemon juice and chicken stock, incorporate pan drippings. Spoon over chops, garnish with fresh parsley.
I like to serve these with oven-roasted red potatoes, sliced in coins, tossed in olive oil, sprinkled with salt, Penzey’s California Seasoned Pepper and rosemary. Start ‘em off like this. Let them roast in the oven for about 45 minutes or so at 400 degrees F. Flip ‘em halfway through. Have a little bite to make sure they’re as crispy as you like before you serve.
We didn’t grow up with these spicy pork chops. But they’d definitely be on the menu if any of us were running the restaurant today. They’ll be in regular rotation in Katty’s Kitchen from here on out.
And the older I get, the more Poppy’s advice really rings true: keep your cards close, don’t trade cards on others–in effect, vatti, vatti due! Do the right thing. Stay out of trouble. I hear his words loud and clear in my head. And I heard them last night when I asked my uncle how he was doing. “I try to keep my nose clean,” he said. I know. I hear you, buddy, and I believe you.
With all my love to all three Alfred Anthonys and to my Uncle Ralph. Vatti vatti due!