Thursday, May 5, 2011

Pork Chops with Spicy Citrus Pan Sauce, Bacon Cheddar Biscuits, Sweet Potato Chips, and Four Star Chocolate Bread Pudding

 I woke up today to my first day of freedom! Freedom from nagging thoughts of textbooks I should be reading, quizzes I should be taking, and papers I should be writing! It's this time of year I can sometimes get the most done. The long list of little chores and emails and errands I've been needing to do seem almost like fun in comparison to doing homework. (I'm sure I'll feel differently in a month, unfortunately.) I also can't wait to start blogging more regularly!

I have a fun announcement to make that I haven't posted on here yet. I will be completing my Honors Individual Project this summer. My topic was approved a couple months ago, but I haven't had much chance to work on it yet. I will be researching Consumer Issues Related to Alternative Diets. What this entails is interviewing two people from each diet I chose and then eating each diet for a week. I will try lactose-free, gluten-free, vegan, and diabetic. I figured that if I want to be a successful counselor when I am a dietitian, I should have some idea of the challenges people face when they must eat a certain way.

So, this month I am simply researching the diets, conducting interviews, and formatting easy cheat sheets for me to use when I'm following the diets so I can know at a glance what I can or can't eat. I am super excited to find some recipes to try next month, when I will be on the diets.

Now, as for this meal. I hadn't made an official meal in a while due to the rather ironic craziness of "dead" week. We were mostly pulling out frozen Trader Joe's foods. Still yummy, but not that fun to make.

We had some friends over a couple nights ago and I decided to make this pork recipe. This is actually the first thing Ryan and I made in our apartment the day after we got back from our honeymoon. We loved it so much that we started dreaming of opening our own restaurant and making that the star dish. It's from Cook's Illustrated The Best Meat Recipes. As I've said before, nothing I've made from that book has failed. I actually didn't get any photos, but I'm sure we will make it again sometime, and then I'll link them back to this post.

But here is a picture of the sauce waiting to be reduced and the recipe!

Pork Chops with Spicy Citrus Pan Sauce (I integrated the two recipes so you can make both simultaneously)

1/2 cup molasses
1 1/2 tsp grated zest and 1/4 cup juice from 2 limes (mine didn't yield this much juice)
1 cup juice from 2 oranges (same here...but it turned out just fine)
2 medium garlic cloves, chopped
4 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
2 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces
salt and pepper

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt or 1/4 cup table sat
4 bone-in rib lion pork chops, 1 1/2 inches thick ( mine were boneless and probably 3/4 inch thick...but you work with what you got. Just make sure to adjust the cooking time.)
ground black pepper
1 tbsp vegetable oil (I used olive)

1. Dissolved the sugar and salt in 6 cups cold water in a gallon-size, zipper-lock plastic bag. Add the pork chops and seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible. Refrigerate until fully seasoned, about 1 hour. I put my bag in a dish in case it leaked.

2. Meanwhile, combine the molasses, lime zest and juice, orange juice, garlic, and chiles in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and puree until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

3. Remove the chops from the brine, rinse, and pat thoroughly dry with paper towels. Season with the pepper.

4. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position, place a shallow roasting pan or rimmed baking pan on the rack (I lined it with foil), and heat the oven to 450 F. Once the oven has preheated, heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed 12 inch skillet over high heat until shimmering. Lay the chops in the skillet and cook until well-browned and a nice crust has formed on the surface, about 2-3 minutes. Turn the chops over with tongs and cook until well browned with a nice crust on the second side, 2-3 minutes longer.

5. Using the tongs, transfer the chops to the preheated pan in the oven. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a chop reads 125-7 degrees, 5-10 minutes (depending on thickness). Turn the chops over once halfway through (I forgot to do this!). Transfer to a platter, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes.

6. In the mean time, pour off the fat in the skillet. Place it over medium-high heat and add the molasses puree, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits. Simmer until thickened and syrupy, about 2 minutes (it took mine a little longer). Whisk in the butter, one piece at a time, until melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste (I actually didn't do this, either).

7. Insert a thermometer back into the pork. It should read 145 degrees. Spoon the sauce over the chops and serve immediately.

*Beware, this is very spicy!*

The Bacon Cheddar Biscuits were also delicious. Unfortunately, they didn't rise much. I believe this is because I made them ahead of time and let them sit out for a couple hours before I baked them. Oh well!

I didn't change the recipe, except to half it. You can find it here. Here are the little fellas, waiting for their turn in the oven:

The sweet potato chips are something I make on a regular basis. Ever since early on sophomore year, I have been obsessed with sweet potatoes and what happens when you roast them with Tony Chacheres (remember the creole seasoning?). I alternate between sweet potato fries and chips and sometimes used Italian seasoning and cayenne pepper instead.

But here is how to make this version:

Spicy Sweet Potato Chips

2 sweet potatoes
tony chacheres (or cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and salt could do in a pinch)
2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400. Scrub and peel the potatoes. Slice into thin rounds and place in a bowl. The thinner the better, but don't slice your finger!! (It's happened before while making this very recipe)

Toss with olive oil. Line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper and arrange sweet potato rounds in a single layer. Sprinkle over seasoning. Bake for about 15-25 minutes, checking at about 15. If they start to brown, turn the heat down to 350.

For dessert, we tucked away a Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding. Again, no pics of the final product, but here's the bread after toasting:

And here's the first step in the assembly:

For the recipe, click here. The only change I made was to use 1% milk instead of whole. I also halved the recipe and so used 2 whole eggs and one egg white instead of 5 whole eggs.

I served it with whipped cream. Mmmm...

Alright, now I was serious about the Nutrifact ideas. Help me out here! Pepper me with some nutrition questions!

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