7-17: Piquant Pork Chops

Oh boy, yet another pork chops recipe. 7-11: Piquant Pork Chops tries to stand out by boasting a fruity, spicy take on the standard pork-chop-with-pan-sauce entries that have already been covered at length throughout this project.

I think it’s a bit hyperbolic to insist that just adding a “new” spice or sauce to pork chops radically changes it as a dish, but I suppose that for some people it can be a big deal to experience new things outside of the regular old tried-and-true.

The “piquant” elements of this dish include the barbecue sauce, apple, currants/raisins, and the choice of steak/fruit/Oriental sauce. I plan to stick to the recipe for the apple and fruit, but what about the sauces? I have a pretty extensive collection–this could be a difficult choice.

I dug everything out from the fridge that I thought could possibly work for this dish–piquant is supposed to “sting” the tongue. There’s a lot to choose from–this picture doesn’t even include the sealed and unopened sauces in my pantry, or the cold sauces that weren’t relevant.

If you’re wondering where this variation comes from, there’s an international market near work–I like to stop in every so often and find new things to try or stock up on old favorites.

Ingredients. I chose to go with a Eastern European/Middle Eastern red pepper sauce called adjika for my pork marinade (subbed in for barbecue sauce) and Thai sweet chili sauce for the pan sauce (for the spicy/fruit/Oriental sauce–this one is all three). I also decided to make a half-and-half substitution out of some milk thickened with a bit of Greek yogurt.

Scoring/slicing the fatty edges of the chops. They have you do this to keep the chops from curling up on you in the pan.

Breaking down apples. If you turned and sliced these matchstick-size (julienne) apple pieces one more time into teeny-tiny cubes, you’d have a brunoise (pronounced broon-wah). And now you’re a fancy Top Chef.

One apple, julienned.

Chopped onion to join the apple.

Pork marinating in the adjika sauce. My variation is Armenian, since this was the kind I was introduced to while living and working in and around a very heavily-Armenian suburb in LA (Glendale) for a few years. It’s a garlicky, red pepper sauce that’s almost closer to a paste in texture. Imagine concentrated red pepper soup–it’s essentially that but way better.

Prepping the pan on the left with butter to sauté the onion and apple and the grill pan on the right for the pork.

Nothing too exciting here–let’s jump next door to the pork in the grill pan.

The grill pan either works really well or is a huge smoking disaster. This time fortunately looks like one of the former.

Mixing the sweet chili sauce into the sautéed onion and apple.

It’s a sauce, but still looks pretty chunky (and honestly, not that appetizing) to me.

However, the pork chops look pretty great. I love when they get those nice, clear grill lines on them–especially from using the grill pan instead of a real grill over an open flame.

A real grill with an open flame will give you much better char–don’t get me wrong. But for a weeknight on my apartment stove and it didn’t even smoke the place up? I’ll take it.

Final picture. I thought this one looked pretty tasty plated on top of some quinoa, but that sauce could still use a bit of work. I added some unsanctioned parsley for a bit of contrasting green to offset the nice deep red of the adjika-marinated pork.

It was definitely piquant–I’ll give it that. My additions were good, but I think whatever fridge sauces you’ve got lying around will work well too. Add this one as another decent weeknight dinner option.

Grade: A-