In between bulk shopping (which I try to do at least once a month) on familiar turf at Sam's Club, we navigate the local grocery chains which happen to be unfamiliar, Publix, Winn Dixie, just to name a few. Of course, none of the grocery chains from back home are located in this region. I have to say I really do miss Wegman's! There just isn't anything like it here. However, nothing beats the fresh local produce from local farmers so I guess that is our trade off. Anyways, Winn Dixie was having a "BOGO" on porkchops and the husband wanted them so in the cart (or buggy as they call them down here) they went.
All I could think of was "Oh no! Not pork chops again!?" I don't know where the over indulgence stemmed from but I was "pork chopped" out! I had been over them for quite some time now. What do you do when you're tired of a food item yet are faced with having no other choice than to prepare it yet again? You put a new spin on it and prepare it in a new way. So I got to browsing online for inspiration (mostly Pinterest and Food network). I usually browse for inspiration and then try to make a recipe my own, I rarely follow it to a "t" unless I don't have familiarity with the cooking process or ingredients. Typically we fry our pork chops and/or smother them in gravy, which has been over done and also requires care. Porkchops are one of those meats that can get pretty dry and that's sugarcoating it because honestly Porkchops can become damn near unpalatable if you're not careful in your preparation. You can have yourself a fine cut of cardboard and sliced splinters.
Randal has two jobs as a cook at two different restaurants now, it's been almost a month at the second venue. He has been picking up alot of new skills to add to his growing cooking skill set. He told me that part of the prepping process at the second venue is that they do alot of "braising of the proteins" (meats). He makes me proud, soon he'll be teaching me new things. At the second venue they mostly work with other white meats such as turkey and chicken. Meats that are notorious for drying out if not prepped and cooked properly. I was first introduced to braising when my mother would make beef short ribs or roasts for Sunday dinners, which were always so tender and flavorful. I love braising meats because it locks in the juices, keeps them tender and can magnify the flavor.
5 Bone-in pork chops
1 tsp black pepper
4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
3 mashed cloves of garlic
2 tblspns of extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp of allspice
1 tsp of nutmeg
1 or 1/2 tsp of kosher salt
First you want to season your chops. I usually start with the salt, pepper and oil. Then, I mash my garlic cloves in the garlic press and work in the mashed garlic shreds. I work everything in by rubbing all of the seasonings into the meat so as to evenly distribute and get a good season. I add the nutmeg and allspice next. Last, I add the rosemary leaves without the stems in the same manner. Then, I cover the chops and let them marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to an hour.
After the chops have marinated, prep an oven safe saute or saucepan over medium high heat. Begin, braising your chops...basically, you only want to brown the chops and not cook them through. The juices will still run red or pink if you poke the chop and that is okay. You can achieve this by cooking the chops no longer than 2-3 minutes on each side and removing from the heat immediately. If your pan is oven safe then add a half cup of water to the juices, enough to fill the bottom of the pan. Return the chops to the pan or an oven safe casserole dish (or dutch oven). Bake at 350-375 degrees for 30 minutes (until juices run clear). Don't allow the your baking container of choice to dry out causing your chops to dry out keep it moist if juices and water evaporates. Top pork chops with baked or fried apples ( the nutmeg and allspice were used to complement this topping). Enjoy!
~Stay tuned for the side dish recipe entry “Blanco Mac n' Cheese"