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Picture this scene: you are on a beautiful date. The lighting is low, candles are flickering sweetly on the table, and crystal and silverware gleam. Your hubby (But I don’t have a hubby! I thought this story was supposed to be RELATABLE???) OK, say it’s your wife, boyfriend, girlfriend. Whatever.) looks so handsome, as he reaches across the table to refresh your glass of icewater (But I don’t want water! What kind of cheap date is this anyway, where I can order only water! Check please, waiter!) OK, OK– he refreshes . . . whatever it is you’re drinking. The kids are sweetly sleeping at home (What if I don’t have kids? And anyway, who is watching them? Are they watching THEMSELVES?!?!) Hey! This is my story! Stop trying to sabotage it! Haha.
Anyway, sitting seductively before you is a plate almost too beautiful to describe– a golden brown, perfectly cooked pork chop rests on a bed of roasted garlic mashed potatoes and a cascade of golden, sweet mango chutney. You stare deep into each other’s eyes . . . (What– you aren’t going to COMMENT? Your date HAS eyes, right? (Oh, sorry. I thought you meant you stared deeply into the Pork Chop’s eyes.) Le Sigh.
Never mind. This story is getting way too complicated. Skip to the slam-bang finish. You made this meal, yourself. In lieu of a babysitter (who may not be in the cards or the budget), you made a delicious, restaurant-quality meal, yourself, and had a romantic dinner after the kiddos went to bed. You can totally pull this meal off, at home, in about 30 minutes and for about 10 bucks. Yes. You can have a restaurant-quality date night, right in the comfort of your own kitchen. And, hey– you don’t have to pay for beverage refills, here. 🙂 We should do this more often.
What are we waiting for? Let’s do this!
French Pork Chops with Mango Chutney and Garlic Mashed Potatoes
(adapted from Food Network)
- 2 French cut pork chops, with bone exposed
- SPOG (more on this later) and oil for browning
Mango Chutney Ingredients:
- 2.5 tbsp. butter or margarine
- 1 mango, peeled and diced
- 1 apple, peeled and diced
- 3 tbsp. white wine
- 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
Garlic Mashed Potatoes Ingredients:
- 4-5 medium Russet potatoes, peeled, cubed, and boiled
- 4 tbsp. melted butter
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 head roasted garlic (more on this, later)
Melt butter in a cast iron skillet. Add diced mango and apple; cook until fruit softens slightly and add white wine and dried thyme. Cook until wine reduces and fruit is soft but still chunky. Divide fruit into 2 separate bowls and rinse pan. Pour just enough oil into the skillet to cover the bottom of the pan. Allow oil to heat until shimmering. Meanwhile, slice a pocket into the pork chops and fill chops with one bowl of the fruit chutney (don’t touch the other fruit with the same spoon you use to place fruit into the raw pork chops). Sprinkle each chop with SPOG (salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder), and sear them for a few minutes in the oil, just until the sides are golden brown. Dump excess grease out of the skillet and move chops, in skillet (cast iron is both stove and oven safe), to the oven at 400 degrees for 12-15 minutes, until chops are done. To make potatoes, peel and cube 4 Russet potatoes. Boil potatoes for roughly 20 minutes, until potatoes are soft when poked with a knife, but not waterlogged or falling apart. Drain potatoes and beat in a mixer with melted butter, heavy cream, salt and pepper to taste, and roasted garlic. To serve, plate a scoop of mashed potatoes, a spoonful of the leftover, separate mango chutney, and position the pork chop leaning against it. YUM. Enjoy every bite! You earned it!
I just love dishes that look fancy schmancy, and look like they took forever, but are really fairly quick and easy. This dish (shhhhhh . . . ) is one of those recipes. Need a beautiful entrée for a fancy anniversary or Valentine’s Day dinner? Look no further– this is it. The best part is that the whole dish takes about 30 minutes to make, from start to finish. Yessssssss. To start with, use a cast iron skillet, if you have one. Cast iron gives an INCREDIBLE sear to any kind of meat– seriously. It can’t be beat. If you don’t have one, that’s OK. But break out Grandma’s old cast iron skillet (it’s GOLD) if you have one hanging around. Start by melting your butter over medium low heat.
While we’re at it, let’s get our potatoes going, so they’ll be ready when our pork chops are done. Peel and cube 4-5 Russet potatoes and bring them to a boil in a pot of hot water. Cover the pot so that your potatoes can have a luxurious day at potato spa and heat more quickly. They need to boil for roughly 20 minutes (hot water isn’t enough– it needs to actually be boiling), so let’s get them cooking so that they’re ready to tango when we need them.
Next, dice your mango into chunks and add it into the butter. Ooooh . . . it’s hot, rich, and sweet– exactly how I wish I could be on a daily basis. Hehe. If only . . .
Next, add your diced apple. An apple a day keeps the doctor away . . . so if you’re married to a doctor, work this one out on your own. Just kidding. Haha.
Let your fruit cook for a few minutes, just until it is slightly cooked, but not complete soft, yet. Next, add in your white wine and dried thyme. Don’t worry– all the alcohol will cook out while the vegetables simmer, and all you will have left is flavor. Cook the fruit until it is soft, but not mushy. You want it to kind of be like a relish, with the fruit still intact, but soft and tasty. When you have finished cooking the chutney, divide it into 2 separate bowls– one bowl will be used to stuff the pork chops, and one bowl will be used to garnish the potatoes. We don’t want the same fruit that touches raw pork to touch the finished dish– so cover and set one dish of chutney aside.
Go ahead and rinse out your skillet. Place it back on the burner on medium low heat (I use about 3.5 on the dial– cast iron really holds the heat, so you don’t need hotter than this. Just give the skillet a chance to heat up). When the water has evaporated, drizzle in enough oil to coat the bottom of the skillet and let the oil heat until it starts to shimmer like a mirage on the highway on a hot day. Yes. That’s exactly what you want it to look like– that shimmery, “This is HOT!” look. It should not be smoking or spattering (that’s too hot).
Next, let’s start roasting our garlic. Turn your oven to 400 degrees, and while it’s preheating, let’s prep our garlic. I am using only 1 head of garlic for this recipe, but if you’re taking the time to roast it, you might as well roast several of them so that you have some in the freezer when you need it. Roasted garlic is SOOO delicious– having it on hand to throw into recipes is a definite plus. Take your head of garlic (Get your head in the game!! Haha) and hold it by the root end. Carefully cut off the top of the garlic (Don’t cut the root off– that’s what holds everything together).
This is what your “beheaded” garlic should look like. Make sure that you can see each individual clove. If you missed any of the cloves, carefully trim off the top so that you can see each one.
I am roasting 6 heads of garlic today– hey– might as well, since I’m heating the oven anyway 🙂 More product for the same amount of work? Yes, please. Put your little cloves into a pan (mine is an 8×8) and drizzle the tops with olive oil.
Go ahead and sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the sweet little bald heads. Who says bald people don’t need a little spice in their lives? Cover the pan with foil and stick it in the oven. Mmmm. Put the oven vent on if you don’t like the smell of garlic . . . because it’s about to smell like Nonna Maria’s Italian kitchen in here in a second.
Now that we’ve finished our fruit chutney and gotten the garlic roasting, let’s turn our attention to the gorgeous beauties right here . . . the French-cut pork chops. This kind of pork chop can be hard to find. I couldn’t find them at the regular grocery store– I had to go to a real butcher who cuts the meat and wraps it in brown butcher paper right there, for you. If you can’t find French cut pork chops, just get a nice, 1 inch thick regular pork chop from the store– but the French ones are OH so much prettier, with that bone to steal the show.
Start by lying the pork chop on its side and placing your hand on top of it. Gently work a sharp knife into the side, making yourself a little pocket– just be careful not to actually cut through the pork chop, or your pocket will leak fruit, and we can’t have that! Even though this gaping hole looks like a chattering mouth, it’s not– it’s a cute little fruit pocket 🙂 Yes. It looks like a cow with its mouth open the longer I look at it. Eeew. Let’s cook it and get rid of freaky cow mouth. Eeeeek.
Next, take the first bowl of fruit chutney (remember, we aren’t cross-contaminating the two bowls of fruit so just “dip” from the first one) and spoon it into the pocket you just made (OK, OK. Put it in the cow’s mouth. Go ahead and throw that back in my face. haha). Use a few toothpicks to hold the fruit in there (just don’t forget to pull them out before you serve the meat).
Now, let’s season our stuffed pork chops. My favorite meat spice is what my friend Jacqui calls SPOG (equal parts salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder). I make this mixture in advance and store it in an empty spice container in my cupboard for quick and easy seasoning for anything from hamburgers to steaks to chicken breasts (and pork chops, obviously). Season the chops on one side and use tongs to carefully place them, seasoned side down, into the cast iron skillet that you’ve been heating with the oil. You should hear a nice sizzle when you put them in there. Ooohh . . . feel the greatness. Go ahead and sprinkle your other side with SPOG so that it will be nice and zesty when you’re ready to flip out . . . I mean, uh, flip the pork chops. Hey– you just called me Cow Mouth. I think I have the right to flip out! 😉
Give your chops about 4 minutes in the skillet before you check them– take a little peek after 4 minutes, and if they still aren’t brown, give them a few more minutes. When they get a nice, gorgeous, golden-brown crust like this, it’s time to flip them. Be careful when you flip these, because they are delicate, with all that stuffing. We don’t want all our sweet little fruit to fall out! :() I used a pancake turner to get underneath the pork chop, and then, when I had lifted it up, I used tongs to carefully grab and turn it. At this point, drain the excess grease from the skillet (leave just enough in there to keep everything from sticking), and place the entire skillet into the 400 degree oven where your garlic is roasting. Mmm. It smells so good in here. The other side of the pork chop will continue to sear in the oven, and the oven time just helps to ensure that the meat gets cooked all the way through. The pork chops will need about 12-15 more minutes to be fully cooked, so let’s turn our attention to the potatoes, while the chops are finishing up. Just a note . . . a cast iron skillet is great for the sear, and it’s great because it can go right from stovetop to oven. And cast iron makes the BEST pizza. Seriously– if you don’t have one of these babies– it’s time to invest in one.
By now, your garlic should be just about ready. Open the foil (be careful not to get burned by the steam) and check the cloves. When they are nice and golden brown like this picture, then they’re ready. Every oven is a little different, so if yours garlic isn’t golden brown like this, give it a few more minutes and check again.
When the garlic cools a little bit, go ahead and squeeze the cloves out. Mmm. Kind of gross looking, but it will taste AMAZING. You can freeze the extra roasted garlic for another time– just make sure you label it so you’re not squinting at the bag, later, wondering what the HECK IS IN THERE??? You’re welcome.
When the pork chops are about 2 minutes from being done, start making your potatoes. By now, they should have boiled for roughly 20 minutes. Don’t go strictly by the time, though– that’s just a rule of thumb. You will know the potatoes are perfect when you can easily spear them with a knife– that’s how soft they are– but they aren’t waterlogged or falling apart, at all. Make sure you have all your “ducks in a row,” so to speak, before you take the potatoes from the hot water, so that they won’t cool off while you’re assembling the add-ins.
When the potatoes are soft but not waterlogged, drain them in a colander (potato water actually makes super tender bread, if you want to save it and use it later, FYI) and pour them into the bowl of your stand mixer. Add in your melted butter and heavy cream (a quick way to do this is to microwave the butter and cream until the butter is just melted– and then your liquid is nice and hot and won’t cool down the potatoes when you add it). Salt and pepper the potatoes a little bit, to taste, and add in your 1 roasted garlic clove (just add the “squeezed out” part– not the white, papery garlic skin). Beat the potatoes and add ins with the mixer beater (NOT the whisk– that will destroy your whisk. Whisks are for meringues, not potatoes) until they are light and fluffy. Let’s get those potatoes rockin’ and rollin’ because we’re about to EAT!
By now, the pork chops should be about finished in the oven. You can test the pork chop’s “doneness” in a few different ways– you can take its temperature (at least 160 degrees for medium doneness), or you can carefully cut into the pork chop. It should be juicy, with just the teensiest hint of pink blush on the meat (real pink color is too raw). If you cook it until it’s completely white, it will be dry and tough as nails. So check after 12 minutes, or so, and see if you need to roast it for the extra 3 minutes– you may be surprised to find that the ‘ole girl is DONE! 🙂
Put a nice scoop of mashed potatoes on your plate, and then a spoonful of the mango chutney from the second bowl we reserved– don’t use any of the fruit we used to stuff the pork chops, even if you have some left over. Raw meat=never touch the stuff, again. I like to microwave the chutney for 30 seconds or so, just to make sure it’s warm when I put it over the potatoes. Then, place your gorgeous, golden-brown beauty leaning against the pile. It’s seriously so beautiful– look at those colors. You did this. You did this after a super long day of changing diapers and running errands and hauling in loads of heavy groceries, while your toddler handed you his straw paper and said, “Mommy, I’m tired. Can you carry this?”
And now you’re rocking a fancy dinner, using Grandma’s skillet, and forgetting that anyone EVER called you Cow mouth.
You totally did it. And I’m just so proud of you.
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