Seared Pork Shoulder Chops with Poblano Ratatouille

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We are well into the holiday season, which means all of us are probably anywhere from 5 to 15 pounds heavier than we were 2 weeks ago. It’s okay, though. The holidays are about spending time with our loved ones and stuffing our faces every chance we get.

In honor of this festive and food-filled time of year, I’m kicking this week off with an ode to a cut of protein I grew up eating every Christmas as a child. It is one of the most versatile pieces of meat I’ve ever had the pleasure of devouring. It is the pork shoulder. And today, I share with you a recipe that will make you forget you’re eating a meal that is low in carbs.

My Seared Pork Shoulder Chops with Poblano Ratatouille more than satisfies the craving I get for the fried pork chops I ate as a kid. This version removes the flour and oil and introduces spices from North Africa and the Middle East. Instead of the traditional rice and beans and macaroni and cheese that always made an accompanying appearance, the dish is brightened by a healthy, hearty and flavorful mix of sautéed eggplant, tomato, onion and poblano peppers.

I rarely use the pork shoulder in this manner, but it works incredibly well. The marbling throughout the chop leaves the meat tender and juicy and is a perfect partner to the ratatouille that tops it. So when you’re contemplating what to do for dinner, look to the pork shoulder. Get a few chops and sear away. Those you feed will be happy that you did!

Seared Pork Shoulder Chops with Poblano Ratatouille

(recipe serving size: 3-6 people)

For the pork shoulder chops:

2 lb pork shoulder chops, cut into 3 or 6 pieces

1 tsp harissa

1 tsp za’tar

1 tsp ground sage

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp marash pepper

1-2 tb olive oil

Mix the spices in a small bowl. Coat the pork shoulder chops with the olive oil and spices. Place in a plastic food storage bag or container and let marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

For the ratatouille:

1 eggplant, cubed (roughly 1 lb)

1 medium sweet onion, diced into 1/2-inch pieces

3 poblano peppers, diced into 1/2-inch pieces

1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half

1 tb fresh parsley, finely chopped

1 tsp fresh oregano, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, sliced

2 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, eggplant, onion, peppers and tomatoes along with the kosher salt and crushed red pepper flakes and sauté for 10 minutes.

Add the parsley and oregano and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 3. Transfer the ratatouille into an oven-safe dish and place in the oven to keep warm.

For cooking the pork chops:

In the same cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, sear the pork shoulder chops for 3-4 minutes on each side or until the internal temperature of the chops are at least 145 degrees (for medium rare). Allow the chops to rest for 1-2 minutes.

Bringing it all together:

1 cup sour cream

Fresh parsley for garnish

For serving the pork shoulder chops whole, place the pieces of pork on a large serving platter. Top the chops with the ratatouille and serve family style with sour cream.

For serving the pork shoulder chops in pieces, wait until the pork has rested for 1-2 minutes. Slice the pork chops at an angle against the grain. Return the pork pieces back into the pan along with the ratatouille. Sauté together for about a minute. Scoop a portion of the pork and vegetable mixture onto a plate and serve with a side of sour cream.

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