Pork Chop Heaven

porkchop2I’ve found Pork Chop Heaven.

This is one of those meals; one of those meals that made me start this blog, so I wouldn’t longingly remember Pork Chop Heaven, yet have no memory of how to get back there.  One of those meals that makes me think I can never go totally vegetarian.  One of those meals that makes me bless the noble pig: a magical, wonderful animal.  One of those meals that makes Tai say “How do you do that?”

I know what you’re thinking. Kaela and her mouth-watering, too-good-to-believe recipes: except it takes two whole chickens, 8 quarts of homemade stock and 13 hours to make.  I confess, I do make some crazily complicated and time-consuming recipes – but not this one.  This took 30 minutes, start to finish, including assembling a simple green salad. Next thing you’ll say, as your eyes glance over the ingredient list and then roll to the top of your head, is “Oh, yeah right. Well, sorry Martha (the “Marthas” always come out when people are particularly annoyed), I haven’t quite gotten around to making cranberry chutney or rhubarb jelly just yet, what with you know, having a life and all.” But, the truth is, you don’t really need the chutney or the jelly; see Options for a quick reduction sauce with frozen cranberries and fresh rhubarb. But don’t say I didn’t warn you: there will be moans.  There will be sucking of pork chop bones. There will be promises of sexual favors for more Pork Chop Heaven. Kids will do the dishes, husbands will take out the trash, dogs & cats will lay down together in blissful harmony… it will be, well, heaven.

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Pork Chop Heaven

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 thick (1 and 1/2-inch), bone-in pork chops
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 tbsp garlic grapeseed oil (or olive oil or butter)
  • 5-inch piece of green garlic stalk, sliced lengthwise, washed, then thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves new Spring garlic, minced

Rhubarb-Cranberry Reduction

METHODS

  1. Mix together salt, black & cayenne pepper, and garlic powder in a small bowl. 
  2. Rinse pork chops and pat dry.  Rub spice mixture into chops on both sides.  Allow chops to sit at room temperature for approximately 30 minutes while you prepare the reduction sauce.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients for the cranberry-rhubarb reduction sauce.  Mix well with a fork or whisk. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.
  4. Heat grapeseed oil over medium heat in a large saute’ pan until oil shimmers, but does not smoke; choose a large enough pan to fit the chops and vegetables comfortably, without the chops touching, so that they are not crowded, which will cause the chops to steam rather than brown.  Add green garlic and minced garlic cloves; stir to coat in oil, then turn down the heat to medium-low and saute until garlic begins to brown, about 5 minutes.
  5. Raise the heat back up to medium or medium-high until the oil is hot and the garlic is sizzling.  Add the pork chops, which should sizzle when they hit the oil, but not spatter too badly.  Cook on the first side for 1 minute; flip chops over and brown the other side for 1 minute. 
  6. Turn heat down to low, drizzle cranberry-rhubarb sauce over chops and into the pan sauce, cover pan and simmer over low heat until chops are done, approximately 5-8 minutes.  I cook my chops to between 150 – 155 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.  Some people like 145 degrees, the USDA says 160 degrees. Do your best not to overcook it!  If you don’t have a thermometer – for Pork Chop Heaven’s sake, go buy one!  Really, they are incredible handy, especially for pork chops.  I used to overcook pork all the time, especially heritage pork, because it stays somewhat pink, even when done.
  7. When chops are done, remove to a plate, tent with foil, and raise the heat in the pan to high to reduce the sauce.  Boil the sauce over high heat for 2-3 minutes, or until it has reached the desired consistency.  Don’t be alarmed if the vegetables are completely blackened – this is not the prettiest sauce to look at, but the taste will knock your socks off.
  8. Transfer each pork chop to a dinner plate, top with reduction sauce, and serve with a simple green salad (the pork is so rich and satisfying that almost any side, other than maybe steamed asparagus, broccoli or green beans, will be too much).  Heaven!

Serves two.

OPTIONS

  1. If you don’t happen to have cranberry chutney and/or rhubarb jelly in the fridge (and if you do, why haven’t you told me yet how it came out?), you can make a simple reduction sauce by substituting cranberry sauce & about 1 cup fresh chopped rhubarb, or 1/2 cup frozen cranberries, chopped rhubarb and 1/2 cup orange juice, and simmering for about 15 minutes in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  Then stir in the remaining sauce ingredients and adjust seasonings to taste.
  2. You really need small-farm, humanely-raised, heritage pork for this recipe.  I just don’t think you can make Pork Chop Heaven with CAFO pork.  These animals were miserable when they were alive and they’ll be miserable on your plate.  Try Flying Pigs, New England Farms or Niman Ranch, if you can’t find your own local source.

STORE

Did you think there would be leftovers? Foolish, foolish mortal.

SEASON

Spring is best for having rhubarb and green garlic on hand, but this could easily be adapted for a year-round recipe.

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