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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Five-Spice Sesame Crusted Pork Chops
with Asparagus a l'Orange

I recently discovered that the fun thing about having your friends randomly stock your kitchen is that it simulates a sort of Iron Chef competition: what delicious food can I make by combining what is on hand? Inspired by what we found, this afternoon for lunch my husband and I put together five-spice sesame crusted pork chops with asparagus in spicy orange sauce on the side. Not only was this a delicious, healthy meal, but we were able to put the entire thing together in less than 15 minutes. Now, I believe good food is worth the wait, but good food without a lot of fuss? Can’t be beat. So consider this healthy, delicious and quick meal as a great option for restaurant quality food on a night when you are a bit harried.

So how did we come to have our kitchen stocked by our friends? If you follow this blog, you know that this past week we finally returned home after six months of living in Ghana (West Africa). We returned home to a wonderful surprise. Our friends had decorated our house for all the holidays we missed, so a box of stuffing (for Thanksgiving) sat next to a heart-shaped balloon (for Valentines) which was next to a pile of candy-filled Easter Eggs. It was nothing short of amazing. But just when we thought we had seen all the surprises up their sleeves, we looked over and saw a bright sticky note on the fridge. Our amazing friends had completely stocked our kitchen with all of our favorite foods.

This is the sort of thing that gets a food-lover all choked up. Terry and I stood over the open fridge cooing like a couple of new parents. Oh look! Hummous. Oooo fresh strawberries. Oh wow, zucchini. English muffins and marmalade! On and on it went, until: oooo, a pair of pork chops.

The rest is one part imagination, on part inspiration, and one part availability.

Five-Spice Sesame Crusted Pork Chops

Serves 2

1/2 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp Chinese five spice powder
2 tsp white sesame seeds
1/2 tsp orange marmalade
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 boneless center-cut pork chops (5-6 oz each)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine marmalade, salt and five spice powder. Brush spiced marmalade on one side of each pork chop. Put sesame seeds on a plate. Press the marmalade side of the chop into the sesame seeds to coat.

Heat the oil in an oven-proof pan (I prefer using a cast-iron skillet). Add the chops to the pan seed-side down and saute until seeds are golden, about 4 minutes. Flip the chops and move the pan to the oven until cooked through, approximately 10 minutes.

Asparagus a l'Orange

3 Tbsp orange marmalade
2 Tbsp orange Juice
1-3 pinches of dried chipotle pepper flakes
1 tsp powdered ginger
2 cloves of garlic
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 pound of asparagus

*Substitutions: you can replace the dried ginger with fresh ginger. Fresh is always delicious if you have it on hand. You can also replace the dried chipotle flakes with jarred chipotle or with another fresh spicy pepper of your choice.

Trim the bottoms of the asparagus. Cut into thirds. Steam until still firm but bright green (stalks will further soften while cooking in the sauce).

Finely chop garlic. Heat sesame oil in a pan on medium until warm. Add garlic and pepper flakes (oil should not be so hot that it sparks when garlic is added). If using fresh ginger, add the ginger to the pan with the garlic. If using dried ginger, add it to the marmalade mixture below. Saute on medium until garlic softens and is fragrant. Be sure not to cook too high or the garlic will burn and become bitter. Add the steamed asparagus stalks and saute for 3 minutes.

While asparagus cooks, whisk together marmalade, juice, vinegar. Add the sauce to the pan, reduce heat to medium low and simmer covered until asparagus is al dente, approximately 5-8 minutes.

To Plate: Place a pork chop on the plate, sesame side up. Spoon the asparagus next to the chop, with some stalks leaning against the meat. Spoon some of the thickened spicy orange sauce onto the meat and asparagus. Then drizzle some of the sauce in a circle around the perimeter of the plate. Delicious with iced ginger tea or white wine (such as Riesling).

This recipe is inspired by Cuisine at Home's "Sesame Crusted Pork Chops with Orange-Sweet Potato Stir-fry" with heavy modification. I am submitting it to CookThink's Root Source Challenge: Pork Chops.


Peter M said...

It looks like we both had pork chops on our mind...great use of the 5-spice.

Erin said...

I love 5-spice, although it is a relatively new addition to my seasoning repertoire. Jamie Oliver has an amazing (and easy) recipe for 5-spice scallops on a bed of asparagus and leeks.

Marta said...

sigh...can you just come and live with us for the summer and be our personal chef???

Erin said...

marta-yes indeed. that is a lovely plan. lets do it!

Becky said...

Now that looks GOOD! I never thought of orange with asparagus-yum!
And about your homemade pizza dough and homemade cinnamon rolls-I am definitely checking taht out today! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

And I just stocked up on pork chops for the month. Now I know what to do with them. :P Looking forward to reading more here. This meal is a perfect fit for the slow carb diet that Tim Ferris talks about on his blog.

Erin said...

Becky-Glad you like the idea. I was pretty pleased myself how it turned out.

Phillip-I have never heard of slow carb, but I admit to being a bit too much of a food-lover to commit to cutting carbs systematically out of my diet. I tend towards "healthy" carbs, whole wheat, lots of fiber etc, but I'm still more of a balanced diet gal myself. But the slow carb thing looks interesting and a bit less extreme

Katie Zeller said...

What cute pork chops!
I love the combination of flavors...
I may start to like orange yet (I've always been a lemon person) This sounds delicious!
What lovely friends....

Anonymous said...

sound delicious. always looking for new ways to cut down meal prep time.

Antonio Tahhan said...

oh, that was really nice of them!!
pork chops are delicious, asparagus are my fave and who doesn't love oranges!? great recipe... can't wait to try it!

Anonymous said...

Erin, I've been applying the principles of the slow carb diet that Ferris talks about since November with good results. I'm never unsatisfied because you can eat so much, and on Saturdays I can eat what ever I want in what ever portions I want. Sunday through Friday it's meat, beans, and veggies. On Saturday it's a Christmas Cinnamon Roll, belgian waffle, home made biscuit, apple pie, chocolate ice cream food orgy. :P

Erin said...

Phillip-It sounds like if there were a carb restricted diet that I could like, a slow/moderated approach would be best. glad to hear it is working for you! always nice to find a healthy pattern of eating that works its way into a comfortable and happy habit.

Katie-I love all citrus but I find my passions switch over the course of the year. Actually at some point in Feb to March I become a monster for grapefruit. I have a killer grapefruit tart (I know, a bit unconventional). But I can appreciate a love of lemons.

Savvy and Antonio, I'm glad you could find something that sounds good. I was definitely impressed with how fast it all came together for something that looked and tasted "fussy" in the end.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Erin, that is some great looking, delicious food!

Bob Gately said...

Erin - I tried both of these last night with stupendous results, except for one thing, I cam to the end of the process and was left staring at a tsp of ground ginger. Could you kindly tell me at what part of the process you added the ginger to the asparagus?


Erin said...

Bob: good catch. Sorry I omitted that. sorry you were left staring at your ginger.

If using fresh ginger, add the ginger to the pan with the garlic. If using dried ginger, add it to the marmalade mixture.

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