Thursday, March 10, 2011

Smoky Pan-Grilled Pork Chops with Caramelized Onion & Horseradish Smashed Potatoes

Recipe modified by Gretchen Wilson – January 27, 2011
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Smoky Pan-Grilled Pork Chops recipe originally published in Cooking Light, January/February 2011.
Caramelized Onion & Horseradish Smashed Potatoes recipe originally published by allRecipes on Saturday, October 25, 2008.

Simple sauces and spice rubs are an easy way to dress up chicken, beef or pork.  Very similar to yesterday’s post, chicken cutlets in a creamy Dijon sauce, the pork in today’s post is dressed up with a spice rub and then grilled on the stovetop. 

My Pork Chops:

© You Want Me to Cook?

Pork Chops by Cooking Light:

© Cooking Light

Not bad, right?  So I’m sure you noticed that Cooking Light had some side-suggestions for their pork chops.  I decided I needed to find something similar to make a complete meal.  But what dish to make?

When I read my magazines, I type all the recipes I want to try into a spreadsheet.  Then I verify I can find them all on-line at a later date.  That way, I don’t have piles of magazines lying around my house – which I do anyway because I can never keep up, but that’s a story for another blog. 


If I see a recipe that is something similar to what I already have (and not a slimmed down version or something special) I’ll pass it up.  I’m not sure why I didn’t write down what this side was, but I’m going to guess it was probably that reason.  I have close to a hundred potato recipes.

Now, I enjoy Cooking Light, but one of my pet peeves is that when they pair dishes together, they don’t link them on their website.  You have to search through recipes for that issue, which could be over a hundred, not including the articles.  So I decided to go through my pile of potato recipes instead of trying to find which potatoes they made.  It was then I stumbled upon allRecipes version of Caramelized Onion & Horseradish Smashed Potatoes.

My Potatoes:

© You Want Me to Cook?

Potatoes by allRecipes:


Little did I know, Cooking Light had selected a similar recipe to pair with their pork chop as well.  Of course, I only knew this because I was going through the comments looking for tips on keeping my pork chops juicy.  NOT because they made it easy to find that information.  I guess great minds think alike.

And by the way, my picture has been uploaded to allRecipes as well.  Yay me!  When all the cooking was finished, this is what I ended up with…

My finished product:

©You Want Me to Cook?

Picture published with recipe:

© Cooking Light

Pretty nice, right?  I decided to make the purchase of a grill pan since I wanted it to look pretty as well as taste good.  Of course, the pan affects the cook time too, but I’m getting ahead of myself.  My husband doesn’t like broccoli, so I decided to pass on this side dish, but we did enjoy a salad with it.

for more details about what my ratings mean, go to Gretchen’s Rating System

MessEH – You use very little equipment and there isn’t much prep work to do.  However, cooking potatoes always is a starchy mess and mashing has the potential for mega-mess.

Start-to-Finish Time: OVER AN HOUR – The potatoes are going to take the bulk of the cook time.  While things are simmering and caramelizing, you can prep the spice rub and get everything ready to cook the pork chops.

Prep Work: SLIGHT BLOOD LOSS – If you’ve read this blog before, you know my dislike of peeling vegetables, but in reality there’s only 6 of them and then you have to slice (not even chop) some onions.

Ease of Recipe: COOK IT IN MY SLEEP – Although cooking meat can be a little difficult to do on the stovetop without drying it out, the grill pan made it really easy.  Caramelizing the onions involves cooking them for a long period of time and mashed potatoes are pretty straight forward.

OverallYUMMY – I know if I need to make a quick meal, one stop at the grocery store for potatoes and pork chops is all I need to make a delicious meal that yields great leftovers too!

Recipe Information:
Time estimates are from the original publisher of the recipe, not the length of time it took me to create it.  Look for my comments below.  Nutritional Information is based on original recipe.  Any changes I make to reduce the caloric, fat, cholesterol or sodium content are not reflected in the Nutritional Information.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Servings: 4 (chops) / 8 (potatoes)

Nutritional Information (pork chop)
Calories 224
Total Fat 11.5g (Saturated Fat 4.1g)
Cholesterol 70mg
Calcium 47mg
Sodium 201mg
Total Carbohydrate 4.3g
Fiber .3g
Protein 24.8g
Iron 1.9mg
Nutritional Information (potatoes)
Calories 385
Total Fat 13.1g
Cholesterol 36mg
Sodium 242mg
Total Carbohydrate 61.2g
Fiber 8.9g
Protein 7.8g

Cooking Light didn’t give any cooking times, so I added the cook time of the chops to the potatoes to get the number.  I’d say it will probably take you longer than that since it took 30 minutes alone to get the water to boil.  I think they “forget” to take things like getting 8 quarts of water to boil into account.

Since you are cooking four pork chops, you’ve got 4 servings.  According to the recipe, you’ll get about 8 servings out of the potatoes.  I’d say that’s a pretty good estimate too.  We ate the pork chops AND some chicken cutlets with the potatoes and we didn’t have to scrounge.

The pork chops are a healthy meal.  The potatoes… not so much.  Don’t worry though.  You can cut down the serving size of the potatoes if you make a vegetable and a large salad to go with the meal.

Changes denoted by red text

For Potatoes:
6 large baking potatoes
3 tablespoons butter
4 onions
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish, or to taste
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
¼ cup softened butter
¾ cup half-and-half

For Pork Chops:
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon hot smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 (4-ounce) boneless center-cut pork chops
Cooking spray

Ingredient Notes:
  • Select 4 onions that are in the small to medium range.  If you only can find large onions, only buy 2.  You don’t want to overwhelm the potatoes with too much onion
  • Although you don’t need to slice the onions super-thin, don’t make them large chunks either.

White Wine Vinegar – this is going to be in the same area as the regular vinegar.  Wine vinegars are milder than regular vinegar, so if you can’t find it, DO NOT substitute regular vinegar.  It will overpower the potatoes.  You can substitute rice or cider vinegar if you can’t find white wine.

Dijon Mustard – there are a lot of different kinds of Dijon mustard.  Make sure you select a regular Dijon and not one with extra flavors.  Flavored Dijon can conflict with the vinegar and horseradish.

Horseradish – It is going to be in the same area as the mustard.  Horseradish is ridiculously pungent.  It looks light and creamy like mayonnaise, but I guarantee you, it isn’t.  You do NOT want to lick it off your fingers.  Unless you have a stuffy nose.  Trust me.  A little horseradish will open you right up.

Half-and-Half – There are now fat free versions of half-and-half which I may try the next time I have a recipe that calls for it.  Honestly, you could probably substitute milk for this as well.

Cumin – the original recipe called for cumin seeds, which you lightly toast in a skillet and then grind.  I have a ton of cumin in my cabinet and I wasn’t going to spend $10 on the same spice in a different form.  I could still take the spicy-deliciousness of the cumin without the extra work, but by all means, if you have the cumin seeds on hand, use them!

Brown Sugar - The recipe doesn't call for the brown sugar to be packed, but it is usually measured this way.  Therefore, I lightly packed it into my tablespoon when I measured it.

Paprika – I used regular paprika.  I got a ton of it on sale and didn’t feel like spending more money on a spice I already stockpiled in my cabinet like I’m some kind of spice hoarder.

Center Cut Pork Chops – the center cut of pork is the leanest cut you can get.  It is also very tender.  And the most expensive.  Go figure.  I used a boneless loin cut that wasn’t specified as center cut and it was delicious.  Just be careful how long you cook it.

Equipment Needed:
Cutting board
Sharp knife
Potato peeler
Large pot
Large skillet
Large spoon
Potato Masher
Small bowl
Small spoon
Grill pan
Instant-read meat thermometer

Equipment Notes:
Grill Pan – At first I thought the grill pan was all about the pretty markings on the meat.  The more I read, the more I realized that my using a regular pan could have been the reason I dried out my pan-fried meat so often.  See, a regular pan is direct heat the entire time.  Grill pans use small amounts of direct heat (raised portion that give the grill pattern) and indirect heat.  If a recipe specifies a grill pan and you don’t want to buy one, you’ll need to reduce your cooking time, and you’ll definitely want to get an instant-read meat thermometer.

Instant-Read Meat Thermometer – I had an old junky meat thermometer that I had inherited from someone – God only knows who.  I never used it and I usually had dry meat as a result.  One day I had bought an expensive roast and decided I wasn’t going to waste my money YET AGAIN by overcooking it.  So I wandered on over to my local discount store.  They had this great electric thermometer that allowed you to set an alarm to a specific temperature.  Best piece of equipment in my entire kitchen and it was only $20.  If you don’t have one – GET one.

I suddenly feel like Woody from Toy Story when he was instructing the other toys to find a moving buddy.

I combined two recipes, so I blended the directions for you to get the most out of your time.  Ordinarily, I tell you to prep all of your ingredients prior to starting the cooking steps.  Since we have some time issues here, we are going to alter that game plan a little.

(1)  Begin Potatoes:
(a)  Peel and cube your potatoes.
In last month’s Good Housekeeping, one of the editors said that her life was changed when GH cooking staff told her to get a “garbage bowl” for her counter while she peels, chops, etc… I laughed but then ended up losing my grip one of the potatoes I was peeling and rocketing it into the garbage.  It annoyed me enough that I decided I should absolutely give the garbage bowl a try.  I must admit, it did change my life – well my cooking life at least.
(b)  Place cubed potatoes in large pot and cover with salted water.
(c)  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the potatoes can be pierced easily with a fork, about 20 minutes.

It took approximately 30 minutes to get my potatoes to boil.  Pay attention so that you are aware when they begin and you can start your timer for 20 minutes.

Next, get out the butter and prep the onions.  Don't worry about the rest of ingredients just yet.

(2)  Begin Onions:
(a)  Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
(b)  Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the onions have softened, and achieved a deep brown color, 15 to 25 minutes.

If they finish before the potatoes are done, go ahead and complete Step #4a and set them aside.  If they cool off a little, that’s okay.  The potatoes will heat them back up.

Prep the rest of the ingredients.

(3)  Combine ground cumin, sugar, paprika, salt, and pepper in a small bowl; rub evenly over pork.

(4)  Finish Potatoes:
(a)  Into onions, stir in vinegar and thyme, and cook for 5 minutes more.
(b)  Meanwhile, drain the potatoes in a colander, and allow to steam for a minute.
(c)  Return the potatoes to the large pot, and use a potato masher to mix with Dijon mustard, horseradish, salt and cracked black pepper until smooth.
(d)  Mix in softened butter, caramelized onions, and half-and-half until onions are distributed evenly.

So, the reason I changed the recipe with returning them back to the large pot to mash was because the serving bowl wasn’t deep enough and I squirted mashed potatoes everywhere.  You know what else it squirted on the counter?  A big clump of horseradish.

And I thought was potatoes. 

So I shoved it in my mouth and almost choked to death.  That’s why I gave a less-than-subtle warning in the ingredients section.

(5)  Finish Pork Chops:
(a)  Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray.
Make sure you remove the pan AWAY from the flame before spraying the cooking spray.  The recipe doesn’t tell you that, but I will since I’ve had a fire ball in my kitchen before from it.
(b)  Add pork to pan; cook 5 minutes on first side and flip.
(c)  Place the meat thermometer into one of the thickest pork chops and cook on the other side until it reads 160°F.

It really wasn’t difficult to make either recipe.  I will admit that I did set off the smoke detector in my kitchen, but the house is still standing, so it’s all good.  This was a great meal with limited calories and the ability to scale it back even further.  If I was going to make it again, I’d probably try the fat-free half-and-half so scale down the caloric and fat content of the mashed potatoes a little.  Delicious and a keeper!

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