Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ancho Chops

Good evening everyone! Ancho chile powder has become one of my favorite go-to spices when I’m looking to add a bit of heat to a dish. Unlike traditional chile powder, ancho has a richer, more smoky flavor that adds an element of heat to dish – but doesn’t turn your mouth into a burning pit of despair. Ancho is versatile enough to be worked into any dish that needs a bit of spice, so it’s not too hard to find uses for the seasoning. However, whenever I find a dish customized specifically for ancho, I know I have to give it a try. Tonight, we’re blending the smoky flavor of ancho with pork (and a few other surprises) to create a flavorful main dish.

The Recipe: Ancho-Honey Pork Chops
Recipe Adapted From: Ancho-Honey Pork Tenderloin

What You’ll Need:
(Serves 2)

4 Tablespoons Honey
1 Teaspoon Lime Juice
1 Teaspoon Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce
1 Teaspoon Ancho Chile Powder
¼ Teaspoon Onion Powder
2 Large Pork Chops or a pork tenderloin (your choice of specifics)
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
In a medium bowl, whisk the honey, lime juice, soy sauce, ancho powder and half of the onion powder until combined. Set this mixture aside.
Lightly season each pork chop with salt and pepper and the remaining onion powder. Add the oil to a large (12 inch) oven safe skillet and place the skillet over medium high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the pork and cook until each side develops a light golden brown color. Time will vary based on the thickness / style of your pork product. The average time needed is about 4 minutes per side, but be sure to reduce this time if your using smaller cuts of pork.
Once the pork has been browned on both sides, transfer the skillet to the oven and allow the pork to roast for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven and brush the pork with the reserved honey / ancho mixture you prepared earlier. Return the skillet to the oven and cook the pork until it registers 145 degrees at its thickest point with an instant read thermometer. Allow the pork to rest for 3 to 5 minutes before serving.

The original recipe called for cheesy grits to accompany the pork. We’re not big grits fans, so I opted to go in another direction. For our side, I prepared a cup of couscous per the package instructions and stirred in a bit of the of the remaining honey ancho mixture right before serving. You’re free to add a side of your choice – any healthy grain would pair quite well with the main dish.

The Results:

I’ve dabbled with the ancho / soy sauce combination in previous recipes, so I was prepared for the almost “BBQ” flavor that results when the two are combined. I have never cut the two with lime juice and honey, however, and that flavor combination was a bit of a surprise. Instead of a rich, savory BBQ flavor (from the ancho and soy sauce alone) we ended up with an almost tropical (think, Hawaiian or Caribbean) flavor. There are elements of BBQ, but they’re accentuated with bright citrus and sweet honey. The flavor recalls pictures of tropical beaches and summer cookouts – a welcome addition for those suffering through yet another Midwestern cold snap!

That’s all we have for you this evening. We’re back tomorrow night with a brand new recipe. Until then,


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