One of the best things that I made before I packed up my New York kitchen and moved to California is the dish you see above. I’m calling it Peppadewed Pork Chops with Cauliflower, but the truth is I didn’t use Peppadews; I used pickled red jalapenos I’d been testing for my cookbook. However, the next time I make this–and there will be a next time it was so good (more on that in a bit)–I plan to use Peppadews, which are those sweet, spicy, red, pickled peppers you can buy in a jar. You work them into the dish twice: you chop them up and add them to a pan of caramelized cauliflower; then you use the Peppadew liquid to deglaze the pork chop pan to make a sauce with butter.
The result is spicy, sweet, tangy pork chops with spicy, sweet, tangy cauliflower. It’s such a winning combination and relatively easy if you have: (1) a cast iron skillet*; (2) good thick pork chops; (3) a jar of Peppadews.
* By making the sauce in the cast iron skillet, you may break down the natural non-stick surface (something I learned watching a video on Food52). But if you don’t use a cast iron skillet, you won’t get a great sear on the pork chop.
In my opinion, it’s worth wearing down your cast iron skillet for this sauce, but maybe I’m just a pan-destructive person.
With the chops and the cauliflower cooking at the same time….
…you can consider this an easy weeknight dinner that’ll stun and amaze your whole family. It’s certainly going to be a staple in our new apartment.
Summary: Seared pork chops with caramelized cauliflower and chopped Peppadews.
- 2 to 4 large pork chops, one per person
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Canola oil
- 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
- 2 cups Peppadews or pickled red jalapenos, chopped, liquid reserved
- 1/4 cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons butter
- An hour before you plan to cook the chops, allow them to come to room temperature. This will allow them to cook faster and stay moister.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Season the chops aggressively with salt and pepper. Heat a cast iron skillet on the highest heat (two skillets if you want to cook four chops at once) and add a splash of canola oil to each. When you can barely hold your hand over the pan it’s so hot, but before it’s smoking, add the chops. You should hear a loud sizzle. Don’t touch the chop(s); allow color to develop.
- Meanwhile, in a separate large skillet, heat more canola oil–a good 1/4 cup of it–on very high heat. When it’s very, very hot add the cauliflower florets and toss all around. Season aggressively with salt and pepper and make sure the cauliflower is caramelizing.
- With a pair of tongs, examine the chops on the underside: if they’re golden brown, flip them over and finish them in the oven (about 1 to 2 minutes more). You’ll know they’re done when you press into the center with your thumb and it has just a little give. If it has no give, you overcooked it. If it has a ton of give, it’s still somewhat raw. If you’re nervous you can either cut in and look or use a thermometer to see if it’s at proper pork temperature (which is a debatable subject, so Google it). When the chops are done, remove them to a plate. They should finish around the same time as the cauliflower which you should take off the heat.
- Toss the cauliflower with the chopped Peppadews and the chopped parsley. Add a splash of Peppadew liquid and taste for seasoning: does it need more salt? More pepper? More Peppadew liquid (which is really vinegar)? Adjust!
- Finally, put the pan you used to cook the pork chops back on the heat and a big splash of Peppadew liquid (like one cup) and the butter. Turn up the heat and whisk until you get a nice thick sauce. (Careful not to breath in a big whiff of that spicy vinegar air; you’ll choke!)
- To plate, put a pork chop on each plate along with some of the Peppadewed cauliflower. Pour the sauce over everything and serve right away.
This is a great dinner to make on a weeknight; the ingredients are cheap and pack a punch.
You can do this with Brussels sprouts in place of the cauliflower.
Preparation time: 15 minute(s)
Cooking time: 15 minute(s)
Diet tags: High protein
Number of servings (yield): 4