Monday, April 11, 2011

Chili-Apricot Pork Chops with Truffled Mash

Recipe modified by You Want Me to Cook? on February 20, 2011
For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of it, please click here.
For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of the Chili-Apricot Pork Chops, please click here.
For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of the Truffled Mash, please click here.

Chili-Apricot Pork Chops recipe originally published in Taste of Home, December/January 2011.
Truffled Mash recipe originally published in Food Network Magazine, January/February 2011.

I was going through my refrigerator, cleaning stuff out, and I found a jar of partially used sugar-free apricot preserves.  It reminded me of some delicious chicken wings I made for a party.  I can’t honestly say that I went searching for a recipe that used the preserves, but it certainly influenced my decision to select this one when I came across it.  Pork chops aren’t one of those things that you can eat alone or with a salad… at least in my mind.  Granted, my mind is kind of simple, but something about them cries out for potatoes – preferably mashed.

Now, every time I watch Iron Chef America, they’re using truffles, truffle oil, truffle salt – everything truffle – so when I found this recipe in Food Network’s magazine (coincidentally the next one I read after Taste of Home with the pork chops), I was excited to try it and see how they tasted.  Apparently they’re all magical or something.  According to Alton Brown on Iron Chef America, "Those white truffles are better than 97% of the sex you will have during your lifetime." (Thanks to Eater for this little nugget of delight!)

My finished product:
© You Want Me to Cook?
Chili-Apricot Pork Chops with Truffled Mash

Chili-Apricot Pork Chops
Picture published with recipe:

© Taste of Home
Truffled Mash
Picture published with recipe:

© Food Network Magazine

My mashed potatoes look spot on with Food Network’s potatoes.  I know I’m biased, but my pork chops look so much yummier than the ones from Taste of Home.  I think it is because I cooked them a little further away from the heat and it gave them the opportunity to get a little char on them before they were cooked through. 

I couldn’t comment on these pictures without making a comment about Taste of Home’s choice of side dish… PORK CHOPS WITH PASTA?  And it looks like it is plain pasta.  It just doesn’t look appetizing at all.

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

MessEH – There is minimal equipment used, and I give a lot of credit to The Food Network for making their mashed potatoes in a single pot.  Usually they want you to use multiple pots for the potatoes, the sauce, the vegetables, etc… having to transfer the potatoes between several different places.  There’s not a lot of prep work either, but remember, you’ll be dealing with starchy potatoes.  It is more of an annoying mess than a beat-yourself-over-the-head-with-a-pot mess.

Start-to-Finish Time: AROUND AN HOUR – The majority of the time is spent on getting the water to boil for the potatoes and then cooking them.  Everything else is done with minimal prep and assembly time.

Prep Work: SLIGHT BLOOD LOSS – If you’ve read any of my other blog posts, you know how I feel about peeling vegetables and more specifically potatoes.  Luckily, that’s the only thing you really have to do other than grate some cheese.  Wait, that kind of sucks too, but it is minimal.

Ease of Recipe: MORE THAN I BARGAINED FOR – This would have been a very simple recipe had I not had to go on an odyssey for the cheese.  Cheese that I never found, by the way.  All the techniques were easy and the rest of the stuff was easy to find.  That stupid cheese, though – almost made me cry.

OverallYUMMY – These were so easy to make and really tasty. Since I’ve started my new job, I’ve been looking for easy recipes to make while I’m getting “adjusted” to my new schedule.  This recipe keeps popping up at the top of my list.

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: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 servings

Nutritional Information (1 pork chop)
  • Calories 271
  • Fat 8 g (3 g saturated fat)
  • Cholesterol 86 mg
  • Sodium 497 mg
  • Carbohydrate 17 g
  • Protein 30 g
Again, the recipe writers fail to include some critical aspects of the time it takes to make the recipe.  Sure, it only takes 30 minutes for the potatoes to cook, but I guess they have a magical water boiling fairy to get it ready.  Here is how the timing came out for me:

Chili-Apricot Pork Chops:
  • Prep Time: none
  • Assembly Time: 13 minutes
  • Cook First Side: 4 minutes
  • Cook Second Side: 11 minutes
  • Total Time: 28 minutes
Truffled Mash:
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Water to Boil: 13 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Finish Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 53 minutes
Now, I made the pork chops while the potatoes were boiling, so I was able to get the entire recipe done in the 53 minutes.

There are four pork chops, so you get four servings.  The recipe for Truffled Mash was for four servings, so I doubled it to match.  You will get four nice sized servings for a meal.  I added a small salad to finish it off.

There is no nutritional information for the potatoes, but they are cheese potatoes with some half-and-half.  I’m sure they’re not on the ultra-healthy spectrum, but balanced again the lean pork chop with sugar-free glaze, it should balance out (at least in my mind – that’s what I’m going with).

Changes denoted by red text

Chili-Apricot Pork Chops:
¼ cup sugar-free apricot preserves
¼ cup chili sauce
1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
1 tablespoon water
4 boneless pork loin chops (7 ounces each)
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
cooking spray

Truffled Mash:
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 1/3 cup half-and-half
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup grated pecorino-romano cheese

Ingredient Notes:
Sugar-Free Apricot Preserves – When it comes to the taste of the preserves by themselves, I have yet to see a difference.  I was more interested in cutting out sugar and calories.  You save 40 calories per serving and don’t have those pesky carbohydrates/sugars elevating your glucose levels.

Pork Chops
  • The original recipe called for bone-in pork chops, which tend to be a little juicier than boneless, so really watch in the recipe where it calls to cook it to a specific temperature.  It will dry out and you’ll be left with chewy beef.
  • Try to stick with the loin cut for your chop.  Yes, it is more expensive, but it is also the leanest, which is one of the things we are looking for with this recipe.
Cooking Spray – to keep the pork chops from sticking to the broiler pan, I coated it with cooking spray.

Russet Potatoes – according to Cook’s Thesaurus russet potatoes have a high starch content which will yield light and fluffy potatoes, so try to stick with them.  They are also known as Idaho potatoes or baking potatoes.  If you can’t find them, Yukon gold potatoes are the preferred substitute for mashing.

Pecorino-Romano Cheese
  • The name of the recipe is "Truffled Mash" but I'm sure you noticed there is no truffle in it.  This ingredient was supposed to be Truffled Pecorino Cheese, but I searched 3 different grocery stores and could not find it.  I gave up and used what I had on hand.
  • Doing a little research on my selected cheese, I found out that Romano is a hard cheese with a nutty sharp flavor.  Pecorino-Romano is made from sheep’s milk.  Huh, I learn something new every day.  You can substitute Parmesan or Asiago cheese if you can’t find Pecorino-Romano.
Equipment Needed:
Cutting board
Sharp knife
Vegetable peeler
Box grater
Extra-large saucepan
Small bowl
(2) Spoons - mixing
Pastry brush
Broil pan
Meat thermometer
Potato masher

Equipment Notes:
Meat Thermometer – One of the best investments I’ve ever made was buying an electronic meat thermometer that monitors the meat throughout cooking and is programmable for certain temperatures.  I truly believe this is why I had perfectly juicy pork chops.

Ordinarily, I'd tell you to prep all the ingredients prior to starting the recipe.  However, since the potatoes have to boil and it takes time to get the water ready, I'll have you split the prep work as noted in the recipe.

(1)  Start potatoes:
(a)  Prep potatoes.
(b)  Cook potatoes in a pot of simmering water until tender, 30 minutes; drain.
(c)  Prep the rest of the ingredients for the potatoes.
(2)  Make pork chops:
(a)  In a small bowl, combine the preserves, chili sauce, mustard and water.
(b)  Sprinkle pork chops with salt and pepper.
(c)  Brush glaze over both sides of pork.
(d)  Broil 3-4" from the heat for 4-6 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 160°F.

REMEMBER:  Be very aware of temperature since boneless chops can dry out.  What I did was place my rack mid-oven and cooked the pork chops for 4 minutes, and then I turned them over and inserted the meat thermometer.  I moved up the rack so the meat was closer to the flame and programmed my thermometer to 155°F (I like to give myself a buffer to put on my oven mitts, get them out of the oven and get them off of the hot pan).  My total cook time was 15 minutes.
(3)  Finish potatoes:
(a)  Heat half-and-half and butter in the pot.

You don’t want the water to boil.  Just get it hot enough that the butter melts and it is warm.

(b)  Add the potatoes and mash.
(c)  Stir in cheese, and salt and pepper.
(d)  Cover and let stand 5 minutes.

I thought my pork chops were delicious.  Something about the combination of sweet (preservatives) with the spicy (chili sauce and spicy brown mustard) just add something to meat!  Honestly, I think keeping the meat away from the broiler – my chops were never less than 6 inches from the flame – was the best way to cook them.  I think they would have dried out and not gotten that gorgeous char had they been closer.  Remember, an accurate meat thermometer is key!

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