Friday, June 8, 2012

A Little Bit of Southwestern Inspiration

Very often when I go on vacation, or even try a new restaurant, there is a dish that inspires me to create something new at home.

I definitely had some ideas from my recent trip.  I am thinking up ways to do coconut vinaigrette and the pork with apples and fennel is definitely a dish that resembles the type of foods I love to cook.  What was the most surprising inspiration from this past trip is that it wasn't one of my own dishes that turned the gears in my head so much as it was a fish dish my husband ordered.

During one of our nights in Bryce, Kevin ate a trout with a sauce made from jalapeno and prickly pear.  This really had me thinking. I love prickly pear juice (particularly in margaritas)  I liked the idea of a spicy-sweet combination and such a combination could go well on a variety of proteins.  I was determined to try something similar when I came home.

One would think with all of the free time on my hands I would be cooking up a storm and baking a bakery's worth of desserts.  So far that hasn't happened.  It only took a day or two for me to turn into Peg Bundy.  If I am not employed soon, all of my meals will be microwaved and I will be spending all of my time watching TV in high heels.  My diet will consist of bonbons and I'll probably take up smoking too.  It's amazing how lazy you can become given the chance to be!

I did still remember that jalapeno- prickly pear sauce and also remembered my desire to imitate it.  I went out in search of ingredients and came up with a method.  Pork chops were my chosen meat, as they so often are.

One really terrible aspect of losing my job is I'm no longer a hop, skip, and a jump from the Norwalk Shop Rite.  That store had a stunning variety of tropical fruits.  I am now stuck with my local A&P as the closest market and their produce section seems to be smaller every time I go there.  I don't think the staff there would even be able to utter the words, "prickly pear" without tripping over them.  I needed a substitute.

I ended up with the most exotic reddish fruit I could find.  I bought a bottle of POM Wonderful along with my jalapenos.  I would make due with what I had.

I started by boiling down the juice with some lemon juice and honey.   I roasted the peppers until they were a little charred.  Then it was all blended together.  I browned the chops, coated them with sauce, and finished them in the oven (my usual method).

See what I mean about lazy?  With all of this time on my hands I should have put them on a plate with the sides and photographed them in the light box.  Instead you get a picture taken on the stovetop while they were still in the pan.

These were seriously spicy.  Who would have though two little peppers could give that much heat.  I liked them though.  They weren't as sweet as the prickly pear juice would have made them, but it was still a strong flavor that went well with the chops.

Right now I'm crossing my finger that the job interview I had on Wednesday will come through for me.  They said I was just what they wanted and a formal offer was forthcoming.  So far I'm still waiting.  Wish me luck, Muffins!

Jalapeno-Pomegranate Pork Chops

  • 4 boneless center cut pork loin chops
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, split with seeds and ribs removed
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 Tbl honey
  • Salt and pepper
Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Lightly coat peppers with oil and place on cookie sheet.  Roast about 20 minutes, or until skin blisters and chars a little.  Place in plastic bag for 5 minutes and then remove and peel off skins.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan bring pom juice, lemon juice and zest, and honey to a simmer.  Keep on a low simmer about 40 minutes or until consistency is syrupy.

In a blender or food processor mix juice mixture with pepper and puree until smooth.

Brown chops in an oven-safe pan about 5 minutes on each side.   Coat chops well with puree.  Place in oven and cook an additional 15-20 minutes.


CookiePie said...

Jalapeno-pomegranate -- yum!! That sounds exotic and so delicious! Will have to try this one.

Joanne said...

I love finding inspiration while I'm traveling also! Jalapeno and pomegranate together...I wouldn't have thought of it but it sounds delicious!

Blond Duck said...

I love trying fun new things!

Emily said...

Jalapeno pomegranate sounds pretty amazing. I've never had prickly pear. You have me wanting to try the juice in a margarita now!