We all know the saying “The quickest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”. This can also be a fairly speedy route to the female heart as well. Staying in and making your date dinner (or making it together) rates high on the romance scale. You get to show off your creativity and appreciation for nuance and details, even if it’s a simple dish. It’s no different from putting an outfit together. That’s what this series is all about. She or he will be left impressed, and you won’t need the skills of Wolfgang Puck.
- Familiar Ingredients: pork chops, multi-grain bread or bread crumbs, olive oil, apricot jam, salt, pepper.
- Not So Familiar Ingredients: nothing weird in this one.
- Number of Pans/Pots you’ll need to make this dish: One baking sheet, one plate to prep the chops. The recipe calls for a food processor to create bread crumbs. If you don’t have one just buy bread crumbs (I used panko when I made the recipe).
A few weeks back I was looking for a simple, yet tasty recipe for a few pork chops that had been hanging out in the freezer. One of my go to cookbooks for such a requirement is Everyday Food–Great Food Fast (from the kitchens of Martha Stewart). Minimal, whole ingredients take the stage in most of the recipes, and they always turn out pretty delicious. This one was simple in flavor, but perfect for a lighter meal. Is the person you’re dating watching their weight or training for something? This is a great protein packed, lower carb dinner. If you want to make it more decadent, I’ll give you some tips on how to do that at the bottom of the post.
I paired the chops with asparagus with orange sauce, which is actually broccoli with orange sauce in the cookbook. I was just trying to use the veggie I had on hand. Either vegetable works.
This recipe is very easy to make, especially if you use canned or boxed bread crumbs or panko, rather than making your own in a food processor. If you do make your own, it will only add a few extra minutes to the process. The side dish was just as easy as the chops. Here’s a few quick tips on the recipe, then suggestions on making it richer at the bottom of the post.
Pork Chops – Whether you choose bone in or boneless, spend the money on a couple of good chops. If you’re making this for someone you want to impress, a thin, fatty chop will be underwhelming. Go for a thicker cut, and make sure you have a meat thermometer on hand to check the temp of the chops. Opt to cook the chops for the least amount of suggested time, and check the temperature then. It’s far better to pull them out of the oven a few times and check the temperature until they’re just right than to overcook them.
Bread Crumbs - The recipe calls for a couple slices of multi-grain bread to be pulsed in a food processor until large crumbs are formed. If you don’t have a food processor, you can easily use bread crumbs. I’d recommend panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) as they tend to be larger than regular breadcrumbs.Put the panko in a bowl, and still add the oil as directed in the recipe, just stirring it in to coat the breadcrumbs. You can also add some fresh herbs at this point if you want. I added some chopped thyme. Sage would also be a good one. But don’t overdo it. About a tablespoon of chopped herbs should suffice.
Side Dish – As stated above, I paired the chops with another recipe from the Everyday Food book–Broccoli with Orange Sauce, but I used asparagus since I had it on hand. Both vegetables work nicely with the sauce. You could even mix the sauce with wilted kale, if you want to go that route. The recipe calls for shallots, which are not scallions, so don’t get them confused. Shallots look like a cross between an onion and a garlic clove, and tastes about like that too. If you can’t find shallots, onion is a good substitute.
Shallots in the Orange Sauce
Dressing it up – Now, let’s talk about how to make this meal more decadent. For the chops, it’s all about cheese. I’d press some cheese into the layer of apricot jam you smear onto the chops before topping with the breadcrumbs. You could go with a good goat cheese, which would be my choice. Add a bit of savory by using a garlic and herb goat cheese. If you know you have a blue fan on your hands, put some crumbled blue cheese on top of the jam. I could even see Manchego, a salty Spanish sheeps milk cheese, being super tasty. Any of these cheeses will add an extra element of rich flavor.
The side dish can easily be built on by adding some salted, slivered almonds. You could even add some chopped crystallized ginger, but omit the pepper flake if you do that. The ginger will add it’s own heat. And if you want to add some carbohydrates, hit up your local Trader Joe’s for their Harvest Grains Blend. Cook it with some Better Than Bouillon for a flavorful side.
Final Note: If you want to pair this with a red wine, go with something lighter like a pinot noir or a cabernet franc. Otherwise, stick with white wine. With the meat being white (it is the other white meat), fruit and citrus flavors incorporated, and some possible heat in the veggie side dish, white will be more complimentary all around. A white bordeaux blend or saugvinon blanc are good bets.