Perfect pork chops the easy way

Plus recipes for a delicious sunchoke, feta and lentils dish and chimichurri sauce

Adobo pork chops

Adobo pork chops

 

Who does not like a good auld chop? You can’t beat the glow of the fridge light, as the head of the family is foraging in the interior, eating cold chops in his undies. This happens a lot in New Zealand, we have a better climate for eating in our underpants, you understand. It is not just something Nigella does.

It is a bit off-putting though, to see the guy you look to as your dad fridge diving in this manner, while he casually asks you “What did you put in that marinade, love?”

My father still can’t believe I make a living out of owning a restaurant or being a real-life chef. But let’s be honest, when your 15-year-old daughter turns around to you and declares she’s heading off to be a chef in Europe it really does sound like oceans of notions. So we have lots of FaceTime conversations. There are questions like “Where do all the customers come from? Who are these people? And they go out for lunch?” 

“Well, yes Dad, Galway’s a big city, and I have a pretty nice restaurant, if I do say so myself.”

Denis Cotter was the sunchoke king back in the day in Cafe Paradiso in Cork and I’d say he still is. The sunchoke goes by many names but whatever you call it, its completely delicious. They have a reputation for making you a bit “windy”, that’s what puts the F into artichoke.

It is caused by inulin, an unusual type of carbohydrate and you can easily combat this undesirable element by boiling or roasting the veg with lemon juice and cider vinegar, a life-changing tip for the die-hard sunchoke fans.

Adobo pork chops

Adobo pork chops
Adobo pork chops

Ingredients
4 large ethically reared pork chops 
100ml soy sauce 
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
100ml cider vinegar 
50g muscovado sugar 
2 bay leaves 
1/2 tsp clove powder
1 tsp ground cumin 
1 tsp ground oregano
250ml Buried at Sea stout, or similar
40ml olive oil 

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Method
Place all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and stir together.  Pop the pork chops in a container or a zip lock bag and cover with the mixture.

Leave at least overnight, but you can marinate this for up to three days.  When you are ready to cook them, preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Place the chops on a sheet tray lined with greaseproof paper and bake for 20-25 minutes or until they are cooked through, depending on the size. 

Sunchoke, feta and lentils

Sunchoke, feta and lentils
Sunchoke, feta and lentils

Sunchoke, also called Jerusalem artichoke, sunroot or earth apple, is actually a species of sunflower, go figure. It looks far more like a ginger root than an artichoke, but they have a subtle flavour and are well worth seeking out.

Ingredients
1 small red onion
50ml sherry vinegar
300g sunchokes
Pinch of saffron
2 tbsp olive oil
200g Puy lentils, cooked 
Salt and pepper to taste
150g feta cheese 
A handful of soft herbs of your choice - mint, dill, basil, parsley.

Method 
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Slice the onion in thin circles, add the vinegar and set aside for 20 minutes to pickle and soften slightly.

Wash the sunchokes super well – they have loads of little nooks and crannies. They might look clean but they are probably not. I peel mine, but you don’t have to. If you do decide to peel, be warned they are the wonkiest vegetable on the planet, it could take a while. As you peel, immediately put them in water  to which you have added lemon juice or a dash of vinegar, as they will go brown faster than an over-ripe banana.

Toss them in saffron and olive oil and roast until soft, about 20 minutes.

In a large bowl or serving platter, mix all the ingredients together, excluding the feta. Once you have seasoned  the dish well, crumble the feta on top, scatter with the chopped herbs and serve.

Chimichurri

Chimichurri sauce: excellent with flank steak, mutton chops, chicken, or even fish
Chimichurri sauce: excellent with flank steak, mutton chops, chicken, or even fish

 

A simple, fresh sauce that pairs perfectly with flank steak. Try it with mutton chops, chicken, or even fish. A bit of green chilli pepper in there won’t hurt if you like things a little bit more spicy.

Ingredients 
150g flat leaf parsley
2tsp dried oregano
4 cloves garlic
200ml olive oil
40ml sherry or malt vinegar
20g/2tsp smoked paprika
Salt and pepper 

Method 
Place all your ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth – Bob’s your uncle.

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