October 09, 2010

Caribbean Feast

So, for awhile now I've been putting thought into a new recipe.  I liked the pork chops with apples and brandy I cooked a couple weeks back quite a bit, and that got me thinking about how I might use some different fruits and liquors along with pork chops.  I've been actually working on the recipe for a few days now, and today I finally tried it out, along with a couple side dishes and a dessert (also original recipes).

Grilling the pork chops.  The chops are in the foreground.  In the rear are the skewers of tomatoes and mushrooms.  In the middle is a failed attempt at grilling chunks of pumpkin.
 All of the recipes reflect a Caribbean/tropical theme.  The centerpiece recipe, Caribbean-Style Pork Chops with Rum-Pineapple Sauce, is detailed below.  The chops are marinated in jerk seasonings, then grilled, while pineapple slices, onions and hot peppers are fried separately, then simmered in dark rum and chicken broth.  Once the chops are done, the pineapple slices are placed upon the grilled chops and both are covered with a glaze made in the skillet from the fried onions and peppers, rum, pineapple juice and brown sugar.  The chops were nice and moist inside, while the pineapple and sauce was delightfully sweet and hot, with an undertone of caramel and spice imparted by the rum.
I served up the chops atop a pile of black beans and rice cooked with more hot peppers, onions, coconut milk and a bit of spice.  The coconut milk mellowed out the heat of the peppers, so that while the rice and beans still had a bit of heat to them, they provided a nice counterbalance to the spicy sauce covering the chops.

I also grilled up some grape tomatoes and baby portobello mushrooms, and I tried out a grilled pumpkin recipe that turned out to be a big failure.  I won't be posting that one, as it needs to go back to the drawing board (or maybe into the waste bin).   The less said about that, the better, but it was easily ignored and thankfully did not ruin the rest of the meal

Finally, for dessert I grilled up some bananas in a sauce sort of along the lines of that used for bananas Foster and served them up atop vanilla ice cream.  They were quite tasty.

I'll post the rice and beans recipe and the banana recipe later, but for now, here's the main dish.

Caribbean-Style Pork Chops with Rum-Pineapple Sauce

yield = 4 servings

4     boneless pork chops, 3/4" thick
1     tablespoon lime juice
1     teaspoon canola oil
3     green onions (white and green parts), chopped
1     tablespoon packed brown sugar
1/2  teaspoon minced garlic
1/2  teaspoon ground allspice
1/2  teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2  teaspoon dried thyme
1/2  teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4  teaspoon ground cloves
1/4  teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1     small onion, diced
1     hot pepper (see notes, below), seeded and diced fine
2/3  fresh pineapple, cored, rind removed and sliced into 4 thick rings
       (one pineapple makes about 7 rings)
1/3  cup dark rum
1/4  cup chicken broth
1     can (6 oz.) pineapple juice
1/4  cup dark rum
1     tablespoon packed brown sugar
1/2  teaspoon grated ginger

Trim the chops of excess fat and poke both sides of the chops several times with a fork.  Add the lime juice, canola oil, brown sugar, garlic, allspice, cinnamon, black pepper, thyme, cayenne pepper, cloves and salt to food processor and blend into a coarse, pasty marinade.  Place the chops in a shallow glass dish and pour the marinade over the chops.  Turn the chops over and spoon marinade over the other side, then cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours, turning the chops and coating them with marinade 2-3 times during that time.

Prepare the grill with enough coals for direct medium heat (I piled the coals on only one side to allow for indirect-heat grilling on the other).   When the coals are ready and the grilling surface is hot, place the pork chops over the coals, spooning any marinade still in the dish onto the top of the chops.  Cover and cook for approx. 12 minutes, or until a meat thermometer registers internal temperature of 130 degrees, turning once during this time. Place the chops on a serving plate and cover with foil to keep them warm.

Right after placing the chops on the grill, heat the canola oil in a skillet over medium high until the oil is shimmering. Add the onions and diced pepper and cook about 3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the pineapple slices.  Continue frying, stirring the onions and peppers and flipping the pineapple often.  Fry until the onions are a dark golden-brown and the pineapple has started to brown on both sides.  Add the rum and chicken broth, stir and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring often, until the liquid has cooked off. 

Remove the pineapple slices from the skillet and place one over each of the grilled chops, then cover the pineapple and chops with foil again.   

Add the pineapple juice, 1/4 cup dark rum, brown sugar and grated ginger to the skillet with the onions and chili peppers and cook over medium-low heat until the sauce cooks thickens.  Pour sauce over the pineapple slices and chops and serve.

The recipe calls for a hot chili pepper.  Select the specific sort of chili based on your comfort with heat.  I used a habanero and loved the result, but Juli found the pineapple slices and sauce a bit too spicy for her tastes.  For those with less tolerance for heat, one or two jalapenos might be a better choice, or perhaps half a habanero.

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