Monday, December 13, 2010

Pork Chops (Burnt), Carrots and Brussels Sprouts

If that doesn't sound like a square American meal, I don't know what is. Although no potatoes.

As simple as this meal sounds, I managed to mess it up anyway, by burning one side of the pork chops, and creating a permanent carbon fossil on one of my baking sheets. 

I'm usually not a big fan of cooked carrots (as in, on their own--I'll put them in other things, but I don't typically eat them on their own). Lifeless, limp, flavorless things. But I'm guessing that's because I've only had lifeless, limp, flavorless cooked carrots. Whilst at the farmers' market, I spotted some lovely-looking carrots and decided to give it a go. 

I had a hankering to make them super sweet, maybe a little tangy.  Most of the recipes that I searched for using the clever and totally non-generic phrase of "sweet carrots" in Epicurious turned up recipes using baby carrots, but you can do this with any carrots.

Adapted from Epicurious
  • 1 1/2 pounds carrots
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for drizzling
  • 1 teaspoon (packed) finely grated orange peel
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 TBS honey
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Peel, trim and slice carrots into about 1/3" to 1/2" inch coins (or if you're using baby carros, just leave 'em).

When I was trying to take pictures while making this dish, everything took on an orange tint. I felt like I was drowning in Gatorade.

Place the carrots on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle lemon zest over them, along with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Naked orange alert!

Toss carrots to coat well with the seasonings.  Pour the orange juice over the carrots.

Cover tightly with foil.

Carefully place baking sheet in oven (remember there is a little liquid sloshing around in there).  Roast until crisp-tender--the original recipe says 10 minutes for baby carrots, but I was worried that would overcook my coins so I did about 7.

Raise temperature to 450 degrees.  Carefully remove foil and drizzle honey over carrots. 

Place back into oven, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, until some of the carrots are browned a little.  Or, in my case, try to wait until they brown, give up due to alarming amount of carbon buildup resulting from burnt orange juice and honey, and remove baking sheet in a hurry.

I took a really awful final picture which you'll see at the end of the post.  Regardless, these were delicious. Just enough sweet and just enough tang from the orange juice. Yum.

The carrots were the only component that really require me to tell you a "recipe".  So the other stuff I will breeze through. 

Now, my little brussels sprouts, I come to hack you, roast you and eat you.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Trim off ends and remove any sad-looking or gross leaves.  I halved them unless they were really small, in which case I left them whole.

Place on baking sheet (or two, depending on how many you have) without crowding, and toss with plenty of olive oil, salt and pepper.  Sprinkle about 1/3 cup water over the brussels sprouts (the idea is to let them cook a little gently first, and then when the water evaporates, they will brown on the outside).

Roast for about 7 minutes minutes, take a peek, toss, and roast some more until nice and brown, about another 7 minutes (the time will depend on the size of your brussels sprouts).

For da pork chops.  I had a hankering for meat, which we don't eat so much of at home anymore.  So I bought meat at the farmers' market.  Two for $17. Bargain. Right? No! Gah! In the words of Ina Garten, I forked over the money, telling myself it was a "special occasion" (don't ask me what the special occasion was, though, besides watching Glee). It reminded me why eating happy meat on a regular basis is not in the cards for us.  

Pat chops dry with paper towel.  Sprinkle one side with salt, pepper, and ground mustard.

Heat 2 tsp olive oil in large skillet.  When oil is really hot but not smoking, place in the pork chops, seasoned side down.  Season the other side, trying to avoid hot oil splatters attacking you.

Wander off and forget about the pork chops.

Come back and realize that you've let the pork chops "brown" a leeettle too long. Flip over.  (Ideally, you'd put the pork chops in, and leave them alone until they develop the color/crust you want, then flip--and I guess if you like your pork chops "heartily browned" on one side, you can do what I actually did).

Hehe. No, not funny. So sad. I think I see dollar signs wafting off in the smoke.

Lower heat big time and cook gently for a few minutes.  I generally like my pork a little pink the middle, but yeah with the whole first side fiasco I kinda overshot that.

Really bad picture. Clearly I already started eating and smeared my food around the plate before deciding to grace you with this photo.

Luckily the pork chop was not too dry.  It definitely would have sucked as leftovers (trust me it could not take any more cooking), but it was actually really good--not thanks to me but to the quality of the pork and the seasonings--so I ate the whole thing in one sitting. And yeah the veggies were good too, not that you can tell in these pictures.

Maybe this is also a post demonstrating the common experience of bloggers to start hot and heavy with pics, and then devolve into lameness.



  1. Teehee! Mina, I love you! You are hilarious! Only you can make cooking a porkchop funny.

  2. My mom ruined pork chops for me. She always broiled them into shingles.

    Since I've gotten married, I've mastered the pork loin though. Nom.

  3. No NO! NOT LAME! how else would I have known how succulent that pork chop looked on the inside if you hadn't (what looks like) torn off a huge hunk with your teeth, first?

  4. LOL. You make me laugh. Your dinner looks quite delish, you know. I love me a crispy pork chop.

  5. minted: gotta find humor somewhere in my life. burnt pork chops will do.

    jessica: i should probably take a lesson from you on the whole pork front. clearly i need it.

    sashacleo: yes, that was my intention! i don't know why i didn't think of that as my intention!

    lobster: you're being kind. "crispy"--yeah right.