Once again I was in that conundrum of having beautiful pork chops from the farmer's market and no immediate ideas of what I should do with them.
After buying some oranges I started to think about one of my previous flops. I made pork chops with an attempt at an orange-honey glaze. They would have been fine if the honey I used hadn't been gross. Italian chestnut honey only sounds like a good idea.
So I considered the idea of making another honey-orange glaze and seeing if I could have some fun with it.
I don't know what made the gears turn in my head the way they did. I don't know why I grabbed certain things off the supermarket shelves. I don't know why I thought I should throw certain flavors into the recipe, but I did.
I started with fennel seeds, toasted in a pan.
I simmered them with honey and the juice of two oranges along with a little zest. Towards the end I added some chopped fresh mint. I considered adding some more savory spices or something salty, but I left it as it was. Why not have something completely sweet on my pork chops? People use sweet applesauce don't they?
I felt like such a mad scientist that I almost considered this stuff. Yes, I still have it. I can't bear to get rid of it because it cost so darn much money. It's Italian and I'm hoping to go to Italy later this year and I thought it might get me in the mood...
...I then slapped myself repeatedly and told myself to use the local stuff. This stuff really is local - very politically correct.
After the glaze had simmered down, I added some chopped fresh mint. Mint? Fennel? Honey? Orange juice? Is this going to work?
I browned my chops, stuck them in the oven covered with the glaze and hoped for the best.
I'd say they were pretty darned good. The mix of flavor wasn't too weird and was a bit unexpected after using more conventional citrus glazes for years.
I served these alongside some creamed spinach. Why? Because there was a lot of spinach at the farmer's market and these days I can't seem to make spinach without wanting to chop it up with dairy products.
I made two chops and used some of the glaze to cover some shrimp for Sir Pickypants. It was easy to just roast the shrimp in the oven at the same time the chops were finishing. He liked the flavors too.
When he came home and saw me tossing shrimp in the sauce and spreading them on a cookie sheet he asked what I was making for dinner and I said, "Shrimp." He said, "That's great for Passover." Whoops! I hadn't even been thinking about that. It was Seder night and I was making shrimp AND pork. I remain the Meshugge Shiksa.
Pork Chops with Orange Fennel Glaze
2-4 center-cut pork chops, 1" thick
salt and pepper
1 Tbl fennel seeds
Juice of two oranges
1/4 cup mild honey
2 tsp chopped fresh mint
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
In a small pan toast fennel seeds over low heat until they are very fragrant.
In a small saucepan combine juice, seeds, and honey. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer till the liquid is reduced by half. Add the mint.
Sprinkle pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides. In a heavy, ovenproof skillet brown the chops well on each side. Pour the glaze over them and make sure they are well coated (you might want to strain out the seeds first).
Transfer skillet to the oven and cook for an additional 6 minutes.