Monday, February 1, 2010

Cajun Spiced Pork Chop with Cranberry-Apple Chutney

Cliff's Meat Market sits across from the Carrboro Town Hall a few blocks from the UNC campus in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I was visiting family in the area and decided to stop by. I left Chapel Hill in 2000 and was pleasantly surprised to see that Cliff's Meat Market was still in business. The front display case was full of beautiful cuts of beef, pork, chicken, and fish. I ordered two pounds of pork which were custom cut into chops with a reciprocating bone saw. There are some great grocers where I live now, but nothing is as fresh as the meat you'll find at Cliff's. With pork in hand, I called my father and told him to fire up the grill.
[I went to college in the mountains where fly fishing is very popular. This recipe first came about for use with trout. Trout is actually my favorite meat to use this recipe with. I'd never tried this recipe with pork until now, and am very happy with the results, but if you don't eat pork, you can still use this recipe, as it appears, on your favorite fish.]


4 Pork Chops

1 Tbsp. Salt
1 Tbsp. Garlic Powder
1/2 Tbsp. White Pepper
1 tsp. Oregano
1 Tbsp. Onion Powder
1/2 Tbsp. Black Pepper
1/4 Tbsp. Cayenne
1 tsp. Thyme
1 Tbsp. Paprika

1 tsp. Orange Zest
1 tsp. Lemon Zest
1 tsp. Lime Zest
1 tsp. Jalapenos, minced
1/4 C. Cilantro, chopped
1 C. Jellied Cranberry Sauce
4 Granny Smith Apples, small diced
6 Green Onions, sliced

Start by letting the pork chops rest and come up to room temperature. While the pork is resting, combine the salt, garlic powder, white pepper, oregano, onion powder, black pepper, cayenne, thyme, and paprika in a mixing bowl to create a dry spice rub. Season the pork with the dry rub and let sit to marinate while you make the chutney.

The flavors of the fresh fruit and spicy peppers are a great combination. The jellied cranberry sauce acts as a binder for all the ingredients. It also cools down the heat from the jalapenos. While the pork is marinated in the dry rub, prepare the chutney. Combine the zests, jalapenos, cilantro, apples, and onions in a bowl, mix well, and place in the fridge to set. It's best to cut the cilantro right before adding it to the chutney. The flavor stays strong and fresh without bruising or browning the cilantro leaves. You can also add a small amount of the citrus juice from the orange, lemon, and lime (optional).

With the chutney in the fridge, and the pork marinated, head over to the grill. I seared the pork on each side for about 2 minutes, then moved them to the cooler part of the grill to continue cooking. Once the pork is cooked, let it rest about 2 more minutes away from heat, top it with the cranberry-apple chutney and serve it with your favorite sides.

[Almost every cookbook I've ever read recommends cooking pork to 170-185 degrees. I promise that this will result in overcooked meat. The real danger in pork comes from Trichinosis, which is killed at 137 degrees. To leave a safe margin for thermometer inaccuracy, I strongly recommend cooking your pork to 150-165 degrees. The pork will be tender and incredibly juicy.]

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