Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Sometimes you feel like a ...

On National Peanut Day it's time to celebrate the nut that's not a nut (it's a legume, like beans, y'all).

So, today, I'm going to combine two of my favorite things,

Peanuts and Pork!

Grilled Pork Chops with Red Peanut Sauce

This dish is really quick and easy. The sauce can be made days ahead of time and kept in a jelly jar in the fridge for at least ten (10) days. The sauce also freezes extremely well and can be doubled and tripled so that you'll never run out!

FULL Recipe after the JUMP
  • All-Natural Very Chunky Peanut Butter
INGREDIENT NOTE : Sorry Mom, JIF® won't work here. Peanut butter should only have one ingredient, PEANUTS! The only other acceptable addition is Salt. So, go to the Über-Mart and look around; you should be able to find some. Now, if, for some unholy reason, you cannot find All -Natural Chunky Peanut Butter, you can use regular plain old roasted Peanuts from a tin! See the VARIATIONS section for details.
  • Unsweetened Coconut Milk
INGREDIENT NOTE : That leftover can of Coco Lopez® from last winter's "Beach Party in February" will not work here. Unsweetened Coconut Milk is easily found in the Asian section of your local Über-Mart, go look for it. If you really can't find this, here are some options.
  • Red-Curry Paste
INGREDIENT NOTE : Curry Paste can also be found in the Asian section of your local Über-Mart. Just look around for it. This type of Curry paste comes in other varieties as well. I prefer the Red variety for this dish, but you could certainly substitute Green, Yellow, or Madras depending on how you're feeling and create something new. Now, if you can't find this, you can actually make this yourself! See the VARIATIONS sections for details.
  • Asian Fish Sauce
INGREDIENT NOTE : Another note and another trip to the Asian section of the Über-Mart. This is getting monotonous.
  • Some fresh Garlic
  • A few Shallots
  • Some fresh Ginger
  • A few Limes
  • Cider Vinegar
  • Brown Sugar
  • Four (4) to six (6) Pork Chops, Bone-In, Thin-Cut, about 1 1/2 lbs. (680 g.) total

INGREDIENT NOTE : I prefer this type of chop because it cooks up very quickly on a grille or even on the stovetop, and it makes for a great family style presentation. Really, though, just about any cut of pork will do. I adore thin boneless pork cutlets as well as double cut chops for this. The only real variation is cooking time. See the VARIATIONS section for some adjustments.
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly ground Black Pepper
These ingredients aren't absolutely necessary, however, they really make and enhance the dish.
  • Fresh Cilantro, finely chopped
  • Thinly sliced Cucumber
  • Chopped roasted Peanuts
  • Lime wedges

Break out the Food Processor or the Blender. This is one of the few recipes where power tools are a necessity. However, you can do this by hand if you like; see the VARIATIONS section for the truly hand-made approach.

Into the bowl of the Food Processor or Blender add the following :
  • About 1/2 cup of Peanut Butter
  • About 1/2 cup of Coconut Milk
  • About two (2) tablespoons of Red-Curry Paste
  • About two (2) tablespoons of Fish Sauce
  • About one (1) teaspoon of Cider Vinegar
  • About one (1) teaspoon of Brown Sugar
  • The juice of one (1) Lime
  • One (1) good-sized Shallot, peeled and cut into quarters
  • Four (4) cloves of fresh Garlic, peeled and cut in half
  • One (1) knob, about the size of your thumb, of fresh Ginger, peeled and cut in half
TECHNIQUE NOTE : I cannot stand "measurements"; so, all of the above are approximations. A little more or less won't hurt anyone. If you don't like Garlic, use less, want it more spicy, add more Red-Curry, too thick, add some more Coconut milk. Don't be so fussy.

When you have all of the ingredients in the Processor or Blender, give everything a good buzz. Pulse and scrape down the sides every so often until you get a nice, slightly chunky,  purée. Give your purée a taste to see if it needs any more salt, pepper, sugar, coconut milk, etc. to your own taste.

Pour the purée into a small heavy bottomed saucepan and place it over very low heat. Bring to a simmer and stir regularly for two (2) minutes being careful not to burn or scorch the sauce. If the sauce is too thick, thin it out with a splash of plain water. Turn off the heat, cover the saucepan, and let the sauce come to room temperature. The sauce can be made days ahead of time and stored in an airtight glass jar until you're ready to use it; the flavors will only intensify and get better over time.

When dinner time is approaching, take the Pork Chops out of the fridge to warm up to room temperature and spark up the grille. If you're doing these indoors, place your cast iron grille pan or heavy bottomed skillet on very high heat to warm up.

Season the Chops with a sprinkle of Kosher Salt and a few grinds of fresh Black Pepper on both sides.

When the grille is very hot, oil down the grating to keep the Chops from sticking and grill them for about three (3) minutes on each side. Remove from the grille when they are lightly charred and set aside to rest.

If doing this indoors in a grille pan or skillet, take a paper towel and soak it with some cooking oil. Using a pair of heavy tongs, rub the oiled papper towel over the ribs of the grille pan or the bottom of the skillet to keep the Chops from sticking. Fry the Chops individually to keep the pan from cooling down too quickly for about four (4) to five (5) minutes per side. There will be lots of smoke and noise, don't worry and open a window. When the Chops are slightly charred or seared, remove them from the pan and place into a very low oven to keep warm.

Slather the Pork Chops with the Red-Curry Peanut Sauce, sprinkle with finely chopped Cilantro, some chopped Peanuts, sliced Cucumber, and a wedge of Lime. Serve with a bowl of Coconut Jeera Rice on the side.


Obviously, Pork Chops aren't the only way to use this sauce. This sauce is excellent with grilled Chicken of any kind, cutlets or whole parts. Grilled ginormo Tiger Prawns or grilled Lobster or Langoustines are fabulous, as well, when accompanied by this sauce. Basically, you can use this on just about anything, including the kids.

Now, if you cannot find Red-Curry Paste in the market, making it yourself is as simple as collecting a bunch of ingredients and breaking out the blender. Check out Thai Food and follow the recipe!

If you really want a complete hands on approach, all of this can be done with a large bowl, a very sharp knife, and a mortar and pestle. Using your very sharp knife, mince up, as finely as you can, the Garlic, Shallots, and Ginger and place them in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix together to form a rough paste. Then, working in batches, mash up and grind the paste into a smooth batter using the mortar and pestle. This takes some effort, but it's a fun workout!

The "brute force" method I described above is the way to make this sauce if you don't have Chunky Peanut Butter. Personally, I like to use plain roasted unsalted Peanuts instead of Peanut Butter for this sauce; it make for a really rustic sauce. Take about 1/2 cup of unsalted roasted Peanuts and place them into your mortar and pestle. Mash and grind until you have a fine powder/mealy paste. Add a few glugs of Peanut Oil to smooth out your Peanut paste. Place the Peanut paste into a mixing bowl and add about 1/3 cup of Coconut Milk, Stir to combine and then proceed with the remainder of the ingredients.

I mentioned above that any cut of Pork will work here. If using thicker Chops, the only thing to be aware of is cooking time and heat. For really thick (2-inch or 5 cm.) Chops, if using a grille, char them for a few minutes over high flame and them move them off to the side (indirect heat) for about ten (10) minutes to finish them. The same holds true if doing this indoors on the stove top. Sear the Chops over high heat and then finish them in a 350°F (177°C) oven for about ten (10) minutes. A Pork roast or tenderloin also works great for this, just remember your cooking times. A tenderloin grills up very quickly and needs much less indirect heat, maybe five (5) minutes, depending on your grille. If doing a tenderloin indoors, sear it in a skillet and then place it in the oven for five (5) to eight (8) minutes. A Pork roast or shoulder takes much longer, again, sear and then place over indirect heat for between one (1) hour, for a roast, and four (4) hours, for a shoulder. Something tells me I need to do a whole separate post on how to cook Pork!

As I've said repeatedly, this sauce keeps very nicely and can be frozen for those dark dreary winter nights.

Enjoy your Peanuts!

©2011, L. M. Sorré, Wait At The Bar

No comments:

Post a Comment