There are two flavors in combination that really get us going, and that’s sweet and savory. Remember that goat cheese tart from a while back? Oh yes, the smooth, creamy, rich, sweet and savory goat cheese tart that is at the top of our list for favorite desserts. It is one of our best examples of the way these two culinary qualities know how to play well together. We are making an earnest attempt to balance our sweet tooth (and a penchant to bake) with complete meals that include a taste of everything we love along with nutritious characteristics. We’re featuring a white meat for this dish–the other white meat. Pork. These two little piggies went to market and enjoyed the ride.
We don’t cook with pork very much, and there’s really no reason for that. It’s just as versatile as any other meat out there. Plus, it can hold up to very bold flavors, all the while maintaining it’s natural porkiness if you will. The essence of the meat itself is just enhanced by whatever marinade, sauce or seasoning you use. We’ve touted our love for cardamom before, and it was the perfect spice to pair with maple syrup for this sauce. The pilaf on the side was a fairly quick and easy side dish that would go well with just about anything.
Maple Cardamom Pork Chops – Serves 8
8 thin cut, boneless pork chops*
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1/8 cup soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1. Season both sides of the chops with salt and pepper.
2. In a small sauce pan, pour in remaining ingredients and cook on low until the sauce reduces and thickens slightly, approximately 5-7 minutes.
3. As sauce reduces, swirl a bit of olive oil in a pan, and when hot, add pork chops. Sear both sides, approximately 1-2 minutes per side.
4. Dip chops into sauce, coating both sides, and cook for another minute on each side.
*You could easily make this with bone-in, thick cut chops. Just cook them longer.
Orange Pepper and Porcini Mushroom Pilaf – Serves 8
2 orange peppers, minced
1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
2 cups water, hot
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup parsley, minced
5 scallions, chopped
1 1/2 cups pearl barley, rinsed
1. Rehydrate mushrooms in the boiling water. Set aside for at least 15 minutes.
2. Drain mushrooms through a sieve and place them in a small bowl. Run mushroom water through the sieve again to remove any debris, pouring into a pot.
3. Add chicken stock to the pot and set to boil. Add pearl barley and cook, keeping on boil, until grains soften to the bite, approximately 30-35 minutes.
4. Toward latter end of pearl barley’s cooking, heat a large pan with a swirl of olive oil. Add garlic, peppers, scallions, mushrooms and red pepper flakes. Cook until softened, approximately 8-10 minutes.
5. Once done, add pearl barley directly to pan of sautéed vegetables and stir to mix well. Sprinkle with parsley. Salt to taste.
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