Thursday, May 29, 2008

Glazed Pork Chops with Asian Flavors

I'd post about my chicken stir fry that I'm making but Ralphie already did. Embarrassing me thoroughly in the process, I might add. So instead I give you this from last night. I had some leftover pork chops in the freezer even though we don't usually eat them or particularly like them (long story). I went looking for a recipe to use them in and so of course I turned to America's Test Kitchen. I've never made a recipe of theirs I didn't like, so of course this gets at least 3 STARS.

And I quote:

If your chops are on the thinner side, check their internal temperature after the initial sear. If they are already at the 140-degree mark, remove them from the skillet and allow them to rest, tented with foil, for 5 minutes, then add the platter juices and glaze ingredients to the skillet and proceed with step 3. If your chops are closer to 1 inch thick, you may need to increase the simmering time in step 2.

Serves 4
1 teaspoon sesame seeds

1/2 cup rice vinegar , plus an additional 2 teaspoons
1/3 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons orange juice (I didn't have any around so I used lemon juice)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (I didn't have any around and I dislike it so I used about half as much chili paste instead. I used Vietnamese rooster sauce, so the end result was pretty spicy. Vary this as you see fit.)
3 tablespoons mirin (I didn't have any of this so I used about a tablespoon extra rice vinegar and a 1/2 tablespoon extra soy sauce and forged ahead anyway. In retrospect I might skip the extra liquid altogether as the glaze took FOREVER to thicken and I suspect it was the extra liquid I added in place of the mirin.)
1 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger (I was out of this too so I used 1/4 tsp dry ground ginger instead)

4 boneless, center-cut pork loin chops , 5 to 7 ounces each, 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick

Table salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

See Illustrations Below: Message in a Bubble

1. Toast sesame seeds in small dry skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until lightly browned and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes, set aside in small bowl. (I used pre-toasted sesame seeds I already had on hand for other recipes.) Combine all glaze ingredients except 2 teaspoons rice vinegar in medium bowl; mix thoroughly and set aside. Following illustrations below, trim chops and slash through fat and silver skin with sharp knife, making 2 cuts about 2 inches apart in each chop (do not cut into meat of chops). Pat chops dry with paper towels; season with salt and pepper.

2. Heat oil in heavy-bottomed 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until smoking. Add pork to skillet and cook until well browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Turn chops and cook 1 minute longer; transfer chops to plate and pour off any oil in skillet. (Check internal temperature of thinner chops; see note above.) Return chops to skillet, browned side up, and add glaze mixture; cook over medium heat until center of chops registers 140 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove skillet from heat; transfer chops to clean platter, tent with foil, and let rest 5 minutes.

3. When chops have rested, add any accumulated juices to skillet and set over medium heat. Simmer, whisking constantly, until glaze is thick and color of dark caramel (heatproof spatula should leave wide trail when dragged through glaze), 2 to 6 minutes. Add remaining rice vinegar and return chops to skillet; turn to coat both sides with glaze. Transfer chops back to platter, browned side up, and spread remaining glaze over chops. Garnish chops with reserved sesame seeds and sesame oil. Serve immediately.

Step-by-Step: Message in a Bubble

NOT YET: Pan surface has just a few small bubbles, and a spatula makes no trails.

JUST RIGHT: Increased bubbles, caramel color, and a spatula just starts to make trails.

TOO LONG: Many large bubbles, ultra-dark glaze, and plenty of exposed pan surface.

Step-by-Step: Prepping Boneless Pork Chops

1. Trim excess fat off each chop with a sharp knife.

2. Cut two slits about 2 inches apart through fat and connective tissue.

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