Jerk Pork Chops
We are trying to eat less meat but man, I don’t know that I will ever get to a place where I don’t want pork. Depending on the cut, pork can very easily be the star of a meal. However, depending on the cut, pork is also easy to overcook. Pork chops and tenderloin fall in this category. I’ve overcooked and made dry so many chops and tenderloins in my life; it becomes harder to eat and less flavorful. After many #chopfails, I invested in a meat thermometer and it has been worth every penny! There is no substitute for precise measurement, followed by some time to let the meat rest. It will deliver perfect pork chops and tenderloins (and steaks, lamb, chicken, fish, etc.) every single time. And after a few trials with the thermometer, you will develop a good sense of cook time with your particular kitchen equipment.
If you scroll through my blog, you will see I love big, bold flavors. Jamaican jerk is one of those canonical big, bold flavors for me. It’s spicy, warm, sweet, herby - it’s incredibly complex and when you’re dealing with a less fatty (therefore less flavorful) cut like pork chops, a great jerk marinade can be a game changer. Aside from tons of flavor, this wet marinade also adds a little more moisture and helps avoid dried out meat. Jerk marinade has a lot of different ingredients. I usually make a larger batch of this marinade and freeze it, so that I don’t have to pick thyme and chop up all of these ingredients over and over again.
On a whim, I finished this recipe with a simple pan sauce, one the meat was cooked and cooked off the remaining marinade/fond with a little pad of butter and some white wine. The glossy, simple sauce helped me get every last bit of flavor out of the pan and I will be making it every time. I served this with roasted vegetables (whatever is seasonal and handy) and some rice. It was a hit!
2 bone-in pork chops
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup white wine
For the marinade
1 habanero, seeds removed (be careful, this is a super hot pepper!)
3 spring onions
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar or molasses
1 tbsp olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic
1 tbsp allspice berries (about 8)
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp ground cloves
Process/blend everything under “For the marinade” into a smooth paste. Place the pork chops in a shallow dish or a zip top bag and pour over the marinade. Depending on the size of the pork chops, you may not use all of the marinade - pour over just enough to coat the chops, without too much excess swimming in the bag. Marinate for 4 hours and up to overnight in the fridge. When you’re ready to cook, remove the pork from the fridge and let it come to room temperature for 15-20 mins.
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Heat an oven-safe skillet (stainless steel or cast iron) over medium high heat. Once heated, drizzle a little oil and wait for the oil to almost smoke. Place the pork chops in the pan and spoon over the remaining marinade over the chops. Cook for 4 mins on each side.
Then, turn off the heat and place in the 400 F oven and cook for an additional 5 mins. Remove from the oven and check the temperature - 145 F for medium and 155 F for medium well.
Now remove the chops onto a serving platter and let them rest for at least 10 mins. In the meantime, place the skillet back on the stove over medium heat and add a small amount of butter (1 tbsp or less), and 1/2 cup of white wine. Scrape off the cooked bits and marinade from the pan and incorporate well with the wine and butter, stirring and cooking for 4-5 mins. Turns off the heat and pour this sauce over the pork chops. Serve with a crunchy, citrus-y salad!