Sweet, spicy and spiked boneless pork chops. Perfect and easy enough for tonight’s dinner.
By Nancy Lopez-McHugh
Pork…I’m considering giving up pork. Not because of religious reasons but because pigs freak me out. That would mean a life without pork chops, tacos al pastor, and bacon. Wait no (real) bacon? Hmm I may have to give this whole giving up pork thing another thought.
Mexicans eat a lot of pork, and so do Czechs. I’ve always eaten pork but not to the extent of the amounts I’ve eaten it since arriving in CZ. For a period I became a cave women and loved to order roasted pork knuckles in restaurants. Yes, the sight of this petite Mexican girl sitting down to eat a piece of meat as big as her head was a funny one. Often times the waiters made sure that I knew what I was ordering. Hey I’m small but I’m no whimp, bring it on! My cave woman days are history, and now I even question how on earth I was able to eat all of that meat. I mean I was even thinner back then. Beats me!
Nowadays I eat less meat and pork accounts for a small amount of my meat intake. Somewhere along the way I started finding pigs freakish and didn’t really want to put their flesh in mine. (Pretty picture, I know.) My husband of course does not share this sentiment. If left to his own devices he’d revert to a meat and potatoes diet. Thankfully he has me to make sure he doesn’t.
On those rare occasions that I am either encouraged to cook pork or when the stars align correctly and I am craving pork, the taste and smell has to be covered up with a depth of flavors. As it is I tend to uses many spices when I cook so creating a depth of flavor to cover up pork isn’t really a problem. Now you may be wondering why is she telling us she doesn’t care for pork and then trying to sell us on her recipe. Because I think this pork dish tastes amazing! I can pretty much assure you that if you have a picky pork eater they will love this.
We all know that pork and citrus are great together. A little hooch of course adds another depth which taste much better. If it doesn’t just pour yourself a big glass, drink, and repeat, then it will taste awesome to you. Raise your hand if you’ve done that? You know you have. But for the sake ( not the drink but English word) of this dish save your alcohol. I assure you won’t need that convincing drink for this yummy dish. Here’s how you git er done! (Sorry I just learned that phrase and find it very amusing.)
- 1 lb. or ½ kilo of thick boneless pork filets or chops
- ¾ cup or 200 ml. fresh squeezed Mandarin juice (used 4 small)
- 14 cup Sake
- Mandarin zest from ½ a Mandarin
- 1 medium onion, cut into ⅛ths
- 1 tbsp. light soy sauce
- ¼ tsp. ground cardamom
- 1 tsp. ground ginger powder
- ¼ tsp. cayenne
- ⅛ tsp. ground white pepper
- 1 tbsp. granulated garlic
- 3 whole cloves
- 8 whole allspice, bruised
- 1 tsp. red chile flakes
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- optional: dried figs cut in half
- Peel and cut the onion, then set aside. Juice the fresh Mandarins until you have the needed amount of juice. Do not strain the pulp, we will also be using it. Remove all fat from the pork, pat dry with a paper towel then set aside. Heat the olive oil then add the onion and saute until soft and translucent. Add the pork to the pan, brown on both sides for 5 minutes on each side.
- Add all of the spices to the pan stirring often and cook for 2 minutes at which time the spices will begin releasing their scents. Pour the sake into the pan and cook for another 2 minutes, then pour the Mandarin juice and soy sauce into the pan. Cover and simmer under low heat for another 20 minutes. Remove the lid and allow the sauce to thicken and evaporate to half the amount. If you are adding the figs do so now.
- Serve the pork on top of baby spinach and with steamed white rice on the side. Use the remaining sauce from the pan to spread over the pork.
If you do not eat pork for religious or any other reasons then I think this recipe would also work great with chicken breast, or even turkey. Have fun and experiment using all seasonal ingredients.