In catching up on the posts from the tail end of The One Year Project I saw that they had given high praise to this recipe for Pork Chops in a Sweet Chili Sauce with Creamy Cilantro Potato Salad. Once again I have to say how happy I was that those guys decided to cook their way through Rachael Ray's 365: No Repeats cookbook. This recipe was something I probably never would have tried on my own, but it was a real winner in our house.
I hadn't told SP what we were having for dinner last night, so when he came home and found me cooking he was curious. He saw the bowl with the potato salad and said, "Is that potato salad?" with obvious excitement in his voice. The potato salad:
... was absolutely amazing. It had a slight spiciness to it that I couldn't place (probably from the red onion), and the flavors of the red pepper, celery, cilantro, garlic and red wine vinegar were great. SP absolutely loved it.
The thing that would have kept me from making this dish was the pairing of the potato salad with the sweet chili and onion sauce for the pork chops. I couldn't imagine how they would work together, but I was pleasantly surprised.
The pork chops were on the small side because I cut two huge chops in half, but the flavors of the sauce were amazing, especially mixed with some of the potato salad. I loved every bite of this meal.
Pork Chops in a Sweet Chili Sauce with Creamy Cilantro Potato Salad
2 ½ pounds russet potatoes (3 medium-large potatoes), peeled and cubed
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
4 (1 ½-inch-thick) boneless center-cut pork chops
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large red onion, finely chopped
1 heaping tablespoon chili powder (a heaping palmful)
½ tablespoon ground cumin (half a palmful)
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 cups chicken stock or broth
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1/3 cup mayonnaise
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves (a couple of handfuls), chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (eyeball it)
3 celery ribs, finely chopped
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Place the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Place over high heat and bring to a boil, add some salt, and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, or just until tender. Drain the potatoes and spread out onto a rimmed cookie sheet to cool quickly, about 10 minutes.
3. While the potatoes are cooking, preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of the EVOO (twice around the pan). Season the pork chops liberally with salt and pepper. Place the chops in the skillet and sear for about 2 minutes on each side to caramelize. Transfer the chops to a rimmed cookie sheet and place in the oven to finish off, 7 or 8 minutes, until the meat is firm to the touch, cooked through but not tough. Remove from the oven and let the chops rest, covered with a piece of aluminum foil, for a few minutes.
4. While the chops bake, return the skillet to the heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of EVOO, three quarters of the chopped onions, the chili powder, cumin, two thirds of the chopped garlic, the brown sugar, salt and pepper. Cook the mixture, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and simmer until reduced by half. Once reduced, turn off the heat and whisk in the cold butter.
5. While the sweet chili-onion sauce is cooking, in a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, cilantro, the remaining chopped onions, the remaining chopped garlic, the red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. Add to the dressing the chopped celery and red bell peppers. When you are ready to serve, add the cooled potatoes. Stir the potatoes to combine, and check the seasoning. Pour the sweet chili-onion sauce over the rested pork chops; serve the creamy cilantro potato salad alongside.