Spice Rubbed Pork Chops with Blackberry Sauce
When I reviewed the Red Sage cookbook a few months ago, I bookmarked a few recipes that I wanted to come back to later. While there are some challenging recipes in this book, I picked a spiced pork chop dish to make for a small dinner party a few weekends ago that I thought would be flexible enough for me to substitute a few things so I wouldn’t have to shop for a million specific spices.
That said, the recipe still has some ingredients that may not be commonplace in your kitchen. But, if you are willing to make a few spice investments, this spice rubbed pork chop is definitely worth the effort.
There’s really three parts to this dish: The spice rubbed pork chop, the blackberry sauce, and the yam fries. I also made a very simple fresh corn salad that I served with it. I’ll give you that recipe at the end.
Pork Chops with Blackberry Sauce
Yield: Serves 4.
4 large boneless pork chops
2 large sweet potatoes for fries
Spice Rub (Adapted from the Red Sage Cookbook)
1 Teaspoon dried Thyme
1/8 Teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 Teaspoon fresh nutmeg
1/8 Teaspoon allspice
1/2 Teaspoon star anise
1/2 Teaspoon coriander
1 Teaspoon Szechuan Pepper (or black pepper is fine)
1/2 Teaspoon salt
Blackberry Sauce (Adapted from the Red Sage Cookbook)
3 Ancho Chiles, I used dried but he used fresh which he roasted at 200 degrees for a few minutes.
2 Cups chicken stock, homemade is best
1 Cinnamon stick
2 pints blackberries
2 sprigs of mint
1 Tablespoon lime juice
4 Tablespoons sugar (he lists this as optional, but my sauce was very bitter without it.)
Seasoning Mix for Fries:
1 Tablespoon Chile Powder
1 Teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon cayenne (my addition and I like it although I'll note that it's hot. If you don't like cayenne heat, decrease this or leave it out.)
1 Tablespoon Kosher salt
1) Rub each chop with a liberal amount of rub and wrap them tightly in plastic wrap. Stick them in the fridge overnight to give the rub some time to really flavor the meat.
2) Chop up the peppers into cubes and add the peppers, stock, and cinnamon stick to a saucepan over medium heat until it starts to bubble.
3) Add the blackberries and mint and cook it for another 10 minutes or so.
4) Remove the cinnamon stick and mint from the sauce and blend it up until it is smooth.
5) Add the lime juice and taste for sugar (3 – 4 Tablespoons) and salt. Once it’s blended, strain it and pour it back to the saucepan.
Note: You can either keep the sauce on low heat so it stays warm or you could make it a few hours ahead and then reheat it when you need it.
6) Peel the yams and chop them into a normal fry shape. Mix the simple seasoning.
7) Take the chops out of the fridge 30 minutes before you want to cook them so they can come up to room temperature. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
8) Roasted the chops for about 30 minutes total, turning them halfway through the cooking time. You just need to cook them until they have an internal temperature of 140 degrees.
9) As soon as you stick the chops in the oven, heat a few quarts of canola or peanut oil in a large saucepan until it registers 350-360 degrees.
10) Toss in the fries and cook them until the bubbling stops (about 10-12 minutes a batch).
11) Toss the fries with the seasoning right away while they are hot.
12) Serve chops with fries and possibly a quick corn salad.
One thing that is really important when tackling a new recipe, especially if you think it may be a complicated one, is to break it down to it parts and then plan when you’re going to do what. This recipe broke down really nicely into those three parts and by the time my guests had arrived, I was done with about 90% of the work.
Let’s start at the very beginning, which for this recipe is the previous night.
Rubbing the Chops
I didn’t use the exact spice rub that Chef Miller gave in the book. I didn’t have Mexican oregano around (or any oregano at all for that matter) and I wanted to add some peppercorns to the mix. Other than adding the Szechuan Peppers and leaving out the oregano, this is what he intended.
For the visual learners:
As you can see, I used mostly whole spices because I had them. Use whatever you can find though and I would definitely encourage substitutions. I honestly wouldn’t recommend going out and buying all of these if you don’t have them. In my opinion, the most important spices for the rub are the coriander, cinnamon, and allspice.
After a quick spin in the grinder:
Now what you don’t want to do with this very amazing rub, is slather it on some cheap, thin chop. The rub would just overpower the meat. It’s definitely worth it to spend the extra money on some really nice, thick chops for this recipe.
Rub each chop with a liberal amount of rub and wrap them tightly in plastic wrap. Stick them in the fridge overnight to give the rub some time to really flavor the meat.
So the chops are basically done. All we have to do is actually cook them. Let’s move on to item two which is the blackberry sauce.
Making the Blackberry Sauce
I was really skeptical about how this sauce would work out but surprisingly, Chef Miller knows how to make an awesome sauce that pairs perfectly with the chops. That was a joke by the way. It’s silly that I would ever be skeptical of something that a chef of his caliber would make.
All you really need to do to make this is to chop up the peppers into cubes and add the peppers, stock, and cinnamon stick to a saucepan over medium heat until it starts to bubble. Then add the blackberries and mint and cook it for another 10 minutes or so.
Then remove the cinnamon stick and mint from the sauce and blend it up until it is smooth. Add the lime juice and taste for sugar and salt. I had to add about 3-4 Tablespoons of sugar to remove some of the bitterness from my sauce. It was really tasty though at that point.
Once it’s blended, I would recommend straining it and pouring it back to the saucepan. I let my sauce bubble for another 10 minutes or so to thicken it a bit more. You can either keep it over low heat so it stays warm or you could make it a few hours ahead and then reheat it when you need it.
Making the Fries
Ok. So Chef Miller serves this chop with yam chips, but I don’t have a mandolin so I decided fries would be a safer bet.
I did 3 yams for 4 people and I think I would do 4 if I were doing it again because these suckers were delicious.
Basically, just peel them and chop them into your normal fry shape.
Again for the visual learners on the seasoning for the fries:
Roasting the Chops
Take your chops out of the fridge 30 minutes before you want to cook them so they can come up to room temperature. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
I would have messed up cooking these chops big time. I probably would’ve tried to sear these chops in a hot pan and it would’ve been a disaster. The spice rub on these guys would’ve burned instantly. Chef Miller recommends roasting them on a rack so that they roast evenly and the rub doesn’t get scorched.
This worked like a charm! I roasted them for about 30 minutes total, turning them halfway through the cooking time. You just need to cook them until they have an internal temperature of 140 degrees.
Cooking the Fries
The timing works out perfectly to start cooking your fries as soon as you stick your chops in the oven. Heat a few quarts of canola or peanut oil in a large saucepan until it registers 350-360 degrees.
Then toss in the fries and cook them until the bubbling stops. I found that they need to cook for about 10-12 minutes a batch. Don’t throw too many in at once or it will just decrease your oil temperature and you won’t end up with an awesome crispy fry.
A fry like this:
Toss the fries with the seasoning right away while they are hot. Once my guests arrived all I had to do was finish off the fries and plate everything!
As you can see, I also served a simple corn salad with this which was just fresh corn, blanched green beans, halved grape tomatoes and scallions. I tossed those ingredients in a bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and let it chill in the fridge until I needed it.
Ok. So this meal may look intimidating, but if you deconstruct it into its parts, it isn’t really all that bad. That said, if you make anything out of this meal, make the fries with the seasoned salt mix. Those were incredibly tasty.
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