Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pork Chops a la Nicole

One day, probably about a month or so, my cousin Nicole sent me a message on Facebook asking for a recipe suggestion.  It felt a little bit like Chopped - she had a few ingredients she wanted to use for a dinner, and wasn't sure what to do with all of them.  Thankfully, unlike Chopped, the ingredients all fit together nicely, so it was a fun set to try to think into a coherent recipe.

Here's Nicole with her husband Adam and their (bloody adorable) son Logan.

Nicole had pork chops, diced potatoes, and zucchini to work with, and was leaning toward doing it all on the grill.  Pork chops and the grill get along great, so that was no problem.  When it comes to diced potatoes, my first thought was a hash, and I figured the zucchini could fit in there just fine, too.  I suggested a marinade for the pork and a method for putting together a hash, and Nicole said it went great.

I could hardly suggest a recipe without then trying to make it myself, now could I?  I ended up making a few changes to my original suggestions based on Nicole's feedback, but my end result made or a seriously tasty dinner.

Here's what you'll need: pork chops, a bit of bacon, sweet potatoes, zucchini, a sweet onion, some olive oil, some vinegar (white or cider), garlic or garlic powder, basil, oregano, thyme, mustard, salt, and pepper.

First, combine a bit of oil, vinegar, mustard, and lots of the spices into a nice marinade for the pork.  It's best to let it marinate overnight, but if you're in a hurry an hour or two will do the trick.  Let it marinate in the fridge and come back when it's time to cook.

Once the chops have had plenty of time to marinade, grill them up.  For thin chops like I used, 2-3 minutes per side was plenty.  Do your best to time it so that your pork will be done and rested more or less at the same time as the hash, which will take 15-20 minutes to make from chopping to finish.

When you're ready to get started, peel and chop the sweet potatoes, and also chop the zucchini and sweet onion into small, bite-sized pieces.

Give the bacon a rough chop and get it rendering in a pan.  Take care not to overcook it - it'll go back into the pan with the rest of the hash later on.  When it's well rendered, but not yet crispy, pull it out and set it aside.

Drain off most of the excess grease, but leave a few tablespoons in which to saute the diced sweet potatoes.  Cook them, stirring often, until they're starting to brown on the outside.  Try a bite - careful, they'll be hot - and when they're reasonably tender, it's time to add more stuff to the mix.

When the sweet potatoes feel pretty tender, add the zucchini, onion, and bacon, as well as a generous helping of the seasonings - basil, oregano, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Continue to saute, stirring often, until the zucchini and onion are nice and tender, then taste and adjust the seasonings.  I added just a quick dash of vinegar in the last 30 seconds or so of cooking to brighten the flavors up, and it really helped a lot.

Serve your grilled chops atop a generous portion of hash, and be ready to offer seconds.

Recipe: Pork Chops a la Nicole
Prep Time: 5 Minutes (+2-24 hour marinade) | Cook Time: 15-20 Minutes | Difficulty: Easy | Servings: 6

  • 6 thin Pork Chops
  • 4 medium Sweet Potatoes
  • 4 medium Zucchini
  • 1 large Sweet Onion
  • 8 oz Bacon
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 3 tbsp Vinegar (white or cider)
  • 3 tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Thyme
  • 1 tsp Basil
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Combine olive oil, vinegar, mustard in a large resealable bag.  Add seasonings to taste.  Marinade pork minimum 2 hours.
  2. Grill pork chops 2-3 minutes per side until done.  Rest under foil until ready to serve.
  3. Peel sweet potatoes.  Chop sweet potatoes, zucchini, and onion into small, bite-sized pieces.
  4. Chop bacon down into bite-sized pieces and render in a pan over medium heat until tender.  Set aside.
  5. Drain away all but 2-3 tablespoons of grease.  Saute sweet potatoes in bacon grease until golden brown and tender.
  6. Add zucchini, onion, and bacon to skillet with sweet potatoes, season with garlic powder, thyme, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper, and continue to saute until all vegetables are tender.
  7. Optional: Add 1-2 tablespoons cider vinegar to hash in last minute of cooking and stir well.
  8. Serve grilled chops hot atop a generous portion of hash.

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