Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cumin and Coriander Crusted Pork Chops

I have been eating a lot of chicken lately; I have kind of fallen in love with Thomas Keller's roasting method. It is just so simple. I think it is actually less effort than pan roasting pieces of chicken, but even roasted chicken can get uninteresting after a few meals. Last week I was about to buy another whole chicken when I saw some beautiful bone-in Pork Chops with nice big pieces of the tenderloin still attached. If you like pork chops you want to be sure you get them with the tenderloin, after all, it is the best part of the pig next to the belly. Another nice thing about pork chops is they are relatively quick. This recipe makes a terrific weeknight meal in less than 40 minutes. Brining the chops will help ensure they stay juicy, but if you are careful when cooking them this recipe will yield delicious and tender chops even if you don't have time to brine.

Recipe for Cumin and Coriander Crusted Pork Chops with Polenta and Sauteed Chard Follows

Cumin and Coriander Crusted Pork Chops with Polenta and Sauteed Chard

4 Bone-In Pork Chops, about 3/4 - 1 inch thick, preferably brined
2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
2 tablespoons whole cumin seeds
5 cloves garlic, crushed or finely minced
3 - 4 tablespoons olive oil
2 -3 tablespoons high temperature cooking oil such as grape seed or vegetable oil
cilantro and limes or lemons, cut into wedges for garnish

1 Recipe Polenta (follows)
1 Recipe Sauteed Chard (if you are a follower of Oakland Skillet then you know how already)

Pork Chops
Remove the pork chops from the brine and pat dry with a towel. Season with salt. Use less salt if you brine the chops. Set the chops aside.

In a small skillet over medium heat toast the coriander and cumin seeds just until they become fragrant. Allow the toasted seeds to cool on a plate. Using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to grind the spices, but leave some texture don't grind all the way down to a powder. Combine the ground spices with the garlic and olive oil to form a thick paste. Rub the paste evenly on both sides of the chops. You can be very liberal with the application.

Heat a large skillet (cast iron preferably) over medium high heat until quite hot. Add the oil and coat the bottom of the pan. Immediately add the chops. Cook chops for 5 - 8 minutes on each side depending on thickness and how well done you like your pork. Remove chops from pan and cover with foil for 4 minutes. Serve with polenta and sauteed greens. Garnish with cilantro and lime or lemon wedges.

4 cups water
1 cup polenta
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
4 tablespoons butter

In a medium sauce pan bring 4 cups water to a boil. Keep the pot covered until the water is at a boil. Add the polenta slowly in a steady stream while stirring the pot constantly with a whisk or spoon so that the polenta does not clump. Return the pot to a boil and stir until polenta thickens. Lower the heat and keep stirring until the desired consistency is reached. Remove from heat and add the parmigiano and butter. Stir until smooth.

Notes: My chops were about 3/4 inch thick. I cooked them for about 6 minutes and 30 seconds on each side. I think they were slightly over done, so next time I'd go with 5 minutes and 45 seconds. It really is a game of seconds. I did not brine the pictured pork chops, but cooking time might be slightly longer for chops that have been brined. The polenta takes about the same time as the chops.

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