It has been THREE whole months since my last recipe post. I’ve been so preoccupied with life things but I promise I've still been cooking. Shout out to my former boss, Ryan for nudging me about these posts. Unfortunately this one has meat in it…so next one is for you—I swear!
Ah, the day of Love. This year my S/O and I have gotten into the routine of full time jobs and transitioning into becoming "adult" zombies. That means conversations over dinner about taxes, groceries, politics, and work. Riveting, I know. It came as no surprise that our plans for an "extravagant" home-cooked dinner flew out the window as we both flopped onto the floor exhausted from the day's 9-5. Plans don't exist in my book anyway! Eventually, as our stomaches growled, he reached over for my copy of America's Test Kitchen --Dinner for Two.
Don't get me wrong, the recipes in there sounded delicious but something in me wanted more. As much as I had my reservations about this Holiday of Love, I knew this “holiday" was a good excuse to challenge myself to divert from the recipes I was given to make something extravagant anyway because nothing excites me more than being able to use my own kitchen as a "test kitchen".
Apparently another part of being an adult is smart shopping. Somehow we managed to hoard ten boneless pork chops in the freezer from our store run a couple weeks ago because....SALES, hello? So that helped us decide what our main dish would be. We picked out a recipe that had pork in it from my America's Test Kitchen mag and used that for "inspo".
My method of experimenting begins with brainstorming. I think in terms of flavors: "What pairs well with A & B? What tastes similar to A so I can switch out A with something else? What has B been paired with before that 'worked' and what was missing so I can make it better?"
Next I research. I validate my flavor combos with things I see online that may have already been done and expand on what I find. I read their methods and what went wrong and what is absolutely needed to make it right and I take mental notes.
Then, I think up ingredients. Often, if I am pressed for time, the ingredients are what I can find in my kitchen already.
This rundown is like the scientific method of my very own test kitchen experiment!
The scenario was this: We wanted to make something similar to the recipe in the magazine that was called, “Sautéed Pork Chops with Pears and Blue Cheese" but I didn't have bone-in pork chops and I hate blue cheese. Immediately I thought it wouldn't work out because the chops wouldn't be moist enough without the bone in so I figured I would pretend like I knew how to make a succulent sort of chutney with half of the pear and use it to slather on each pork chop. The other half would be caramelized and would provide a sweet warm flavor. What else would taste warm with the pear? Then it came to me. --Nutmeg and cayenne! It was excellent. I was winging it the entire time and it ended up being sweet and savory and perfect (dat Maillard reaction though, amiright?).
I don't want to go through my entire thought process because that would mean extending this entire blog post and I am sure you're here for a recipe so I'll cut straight to the chase! I didn't measure anything out (Oops!....As per usual...) so I will try my best with measurements.
2 8 oz. pork chops
2 TBS balsamic vinegar
2 TBS olive oil
1/2 large pear, mashed
(thinly slice other half)
dash of nutmeg
pinch of brown sugar
Grease a seasoned cast iron skillet with unsalted butter (or ghee) and warm on medium to high heat. Prepare your chops with garlic powder, cayenne, and salt on both sides. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine balsamic vinegar, olive oil, mashed pear, nutmeg, and brown sugar and mix. Place chops in pear mixture and coat well.
With a pair of tongs, place each chop onto the heated skillet (the sizzling sound is music to my ears!) and add a pinch of brown sugar to the chops. Sear each side while covered with a lid for 5-7 minutes or until the inside is no longer pink. Once cooked, remove from heat and place on a warm plate.
In the same skillet, sear sliced pears until brown on each side. Sprinkle pears with brown sugar to caramelize.
Top pork chops with caramelized pears and sprinkle with feta.
Indulge & happy eating!