Sunday, September 21, 2014

Chili-Dusted Pork Chops

Served with carrots because I am lazy.
I love pork. There is something special about eating Babe for me. And while I do love bacon, the internet gets it wrong. It is not bacon that is magic, but the pig in general. Consider this nugget of wisdom from the Simpsons:

Homer: Lisa, honey, are you saying you're never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon?
Lisa: No.
Homer: Ham?
Lisa: No.
Homer: Pork chops?
Lisa: Dad! Those all come from the same animal!
Homer: [chuckling] Yeah, right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.

So let us have a pork chop!

Aside: before you dismiss this dish as too spicy: there is very little heat in this recipe. I was a little surprised. It is all citrus. So if crazy, ultra-super, über sensitive to heat like my almost ninety year old grandmother, do not eat this. Otherwise feel free to proceed.

1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Four 1/2-pound boneless pork loin chops, cut 1 1/4 inches thick
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime (about a 1/2 teaspoon of zest)
3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro (or less)

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a small bowl, mix the chili powder with the cumin, salt and pepper. Sprinkle the spice mixture all over both sides of the pork chops.
In a large ovenproof skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the pork chops and cook over high heat until browned, about 1 minute per side. Add the garlic, lime zest, lime juice, and cilantro to the skillet and roast the chops in the center of the oven for 10 minutes, or until rosy throughout. Transfer to plates and serve.

Also I am going to be honest, I never use FRESH ground pepper. I always use the canned stuff.

As for the lime, I get a small one. Then zest most of the skin and then measure out a half teaspoon. I do not go crazy trying to squeeze out all the juice either.

This rub is kind of sticky. Do NOT drag you chops though it: sprinkle. The first time I made this I drug them through and had all kinds of clumpy pockets of seasoning. So sprinkle: do not rub, drag, shake, cha-cha, or otherwise not sprinkle.

Seriously, if you are half paying attention you can do a better job than this.
Above you might notice six pork chops as opposed to four. You will also not they are paper thin. Well long story short: my grocery sucks. That is a grand total of 0.8 lbs of meat. Sigh. They had some better cuts that were bone in, but as previously noted: lazy. I had to adjust the cooking time and as a result the garlic was a little firm.

I always use my Dutch oven for this recipe. Dutch oven: giggle, giggle. It is just easier having a pot I can take straight from the stove top to the oven. Plus it is less cleaning than transferring to a baking dish.
Dutch oven on the left: no plastic.
Typical pot on the right: lots of plastic.
One goes in the oven just fine, the other not so much: poison gas.

I hear that little voice out there in internet landing saying "Excuse me you say 'or less' on the cilantro, why?" (Little voice. Get it? I amuse myself greatly!) Well that is because as much as I love cilantro it can overwhelm this dish when in combination with the lime. I generally shoot for enough on each chop that I think each bite will have a little.

Let us talk chicken for a moment. In a desire to share this wonderful recipe with the wifey, who does not eat pork, I made it with chicken one day. It did not go well. The citrus completely overwhelmed EVERYTHING. It was like sucking on a lime that had been sprinkled with cilantro. If I ever go chicken again I will cut back heavily on the lime juice, zest, and cilantro.

If you eat pork, you should make this now. If you do not eat pork that means more left overs for breakfast the next day for the pork eaters in your house,,so you should also selflessly make this now. Everyone wins!

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