Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Chorizo-style Pork Chops
I'm a bit of an early bird. I love getting up early, even on the weekends, and seizing the day. By 11 pm on a weekday, I'm already asleep. It's a little bit of a struggle, since most of my friends aren't exactly excited when I call them at 9 am on a Saturday to go to the farmer's market. I can't understand why...the morning is always so gorgeous and sunny!
Sometimes on the weekend, I'll try to quietly entertain myself for an hour or two and let the Monkey Scientist sleep a little later before I wake him up. I'll read a book on my iPad or, lately, brainstorm recipe ideas. A few weeks ago, lying in bed on a Saturday morning, I had the inspiration for this dish. Yes, I was thinking about pork chops at 9 am on a Saturday. I might like food a little bit.
If you didn't notice, I have been a little bit obsessed with chorizo lately. I would love to eat it fried up for dinner, but pork sausage isn't exactly the healthiest protein in the world. So I wanted to create a pork dish that could serve as the main course while incorporating all of those spicy, warm chorizo flavors into it. I decided the best way to do this was to make a marinade with all of the ingredients that go into my favorite chorizo sausage (except the ground pork) and smother some boneless pork chops in it.
Do you know what gives chorizo that unmistakable red/orange oil? I couldn't quite figure it out until I started making this recipe. It's dried chiles! If you live in DC, you can find dried Mexican chiles in the produce section at most Giant supermarkets. The best place for dried chiles though is the new Georgetown Safeway. The Monkey Scientist stopped by there and found a wide selection at very reasonable prices.
This recipe turned out better than I ever expected! The sauce was amazing - I could have licked it off the plate. It did have a solid kick to it - which we love - but you could tone it down by using milder chiles and less cayenne. It wasn't exactly the same as eating chorizo, but it certainly was healthier. Except for the whole frying in bacon fat thing - but that was totally worth it. We didn't grow up eating pork chops, but they're fairly inexpensive and super easy and quick to make. We ate it with my favorite brussels sprouts recipe - I'll share it with you later this week. This was one of my favorite meals to date!
Chorizo-style Pork Chops
adapted from Homesick Texan and Simply Recipes
3 dried New Mexico chiles (or other Mexican dried chile peppers)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 small onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon oregano
3/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons salt
4-6 boneless pork chops (about 3/4" thick)
1-2 tbsp bacon fat (or olive oil)
1. Rinse the dried chiles, and then remove the stem and seeds. Heat the chiles for a couple of minutes on each side in a cast-iron skillet on high heat. Remove from skillet and let soak for half an hour in water.
2. After chiles are moist, drain the water and place the chiles and vinegar in a blender or food processor, also adding the diced onion and chopped garlic. Puree until a smooth, bright red paste is formed (can add a splash of water or vinegar if it's too dry to blend). It will look like ketchup.
3. Combine the remaining spices in a separate bowl. Rub the pork chops in a heavy coat of the spice blend. Place them in a Ziploc bag, then add in the chile mixture. Seal the bag, then shake to coat the pork chops and place in the refrigerator to marinate for about 2 hours.
4. Heat a skillet over medium high heat until hot. Add the bacon fat (fry up some bacon, remove it and leave the fat behind) or oil and then the pork chops. Do not crowd the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side, until you see a brown sear around the edges (it won't turn very brown because of the marinade). Juices should run clear and there should be no pink inside when done. Serve immediately.