I had a dinner party this weekend. I don’t know if you are like me, but I always struggle with what to make for more than 2 people… ok, if I am being honest, one. Cooking for more than 1 person for me makes me have to think a little. Usually I am the one person I cook for and if I screw up… hey no biggie. If I am cooking for me and Bf and he doesn’t like it… hey no biggie. But if there are more people, I am always searching for a great meal that will “wow” but looks so easy that you’d just think I was born to cook.
Well, I found it in this month’s Bon Appetit. I made a delicious Pork Chop for my group of seven friends. This is a great recipe because all the prep work can be done in advance. I actually did a lot of cooking in advance, so when my guests arrived all I had to do was fire up the grill, reheat my peppers and we were ready to chow down.
The secret to this recipe is in the brining of the Pork Chops.
I had 6 pork chops and I brined them in 8 cups water, 1/2 cup kosher salt, and 1/2 cup sugar for about 8 hours. You could brine them over night as well.
While my pork chops brined, I got to work on a delicious, spicy accoutrements (is that right? who speaks french?).
There are a lot of peppers in this recipe, 2 red, 2 yellow or orange, pickled red peppers, crushed red pepper… and then some pearl onions.
The first thing that I did was slice the bell peppers into chunks and seed them.
And slice and seed!
And slice and seed. It seemed like I was slicing a seeding forever, but I was glad I did it in advance so that I would spend time drinking wine with my guests.
Then it came time to slice and seed my cute lil’ cherry peppers.
First, I seeded…
Then, I sliced. The cherry peppers should be sliced thin.
Then I blanched my pearl onions for about a minute. After that I let them cool in the colander for a few minutes so that I wouldn’t burn my fingers peeling them. Then I peeled them by cutting off the connecting end and popping them out.
I added the onions to a skillet with a little bit of olive oil and cooked them on medium high until they started to brown in places. Once the onions started to brown, I moved them to a waiting dish.
Since I was cooking for seven people, I cooked the peppers in 2 batches. Overcrowding the skillet will steam the peppers and I wanted them to brown if they could.
Here is my other 1/2 of peppers on standby.
Then I added about 1 1/2 tsp of sugar to the peppers. Who has time to measure, eh? A small handful will do ya just right.
Then I added my sugar to the mixture to give it some sweetness.
Once my peppers began to soften, I added in my blanched and peeled pearl onions.
I added a little crushed red pepper for some spiciness.
Last, I added in my finely sliced cherry peppers. They are so pretty.
To finish my topping off, I added some pepper….
… and some kosher salt. Then I reduced the heat to low and let the veggies cook for about another 10 minutes to get more tender.
I threw the pepper topping into a tupperware container and did the second batch of pepper mixture.
Once both of my batches were tender and dumped into my tupperware dish, I set the dish in the refrigerator along with my brining pork chops and set off the shower, clean,
go to the mall and get ready for my guests. I said “see you in a few hours” and was on my way.
Once my guests arrived and were good and hungry, Bf fired up the grill and cooked the pork chops (which we seasoned with a little olive oil and pepper) for about 5 minutes on each side over high heat. While he did that, I added my pepper topping back into a skillet and heated it until it was good and hot.
He brought me the pork chops, while I laughed with my friends and talked about how messy boys were, and drizzled them with about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and topped with the pepper mixture.
And they were ready! I couldn’t believe how a little prep work really spared me from the pain of sweating over a hot stove while my guests were having fun. I always want to be a part of that fun-right before we eat-partiness, and finally I was.
I served the pork chops with a chickpea salad. I thought that it was so fresh and springy. I’ll post the recipe this week because you have to try it!
Then, my friends and I ate, talked, ate, talked, made fun of each other, talked, joked, and ate.
I love a night spent with good friends, good food, and a dumb boyfriend who thinks its funny to pose in the background of pictures. Thao and I are used to it.
The pork chops were awesome. I have never had brined pork chops before and they were wonderful. The brine helped the pork chops stay juicy and it absolutely worked. They were the best pork chops I have ever had.
And then… I noticed something. Everyone was eating and murmuring… and then I noticed a plate that had been pushed behind the glass hurricane on my dining room table.
It was hidden so I couldn’t see it, but oh, I saw it alright. Then Andrew admitted that he hates chickpeas. Gasp. At least he was nice enough to pretend. Then he ate one. And gagged.
This is a great recipe for a dinner party, because it allows you to still be interactive with your guests. No guest likes a hostess who is sweating and shouting directions at people.
Pepper Topped Pork Chops
1/2 cup Kosher salt
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
6 pork chops (with the rib bone attached)
2 pounds cipolline or pearl onions
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil
4 bell peppers (2 red 2 yellow or orange)
1 small red onion finely chopped
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
12 pickled cherry tomatoes from jar, seeded and sliced thin
Whisk 1/2 cup kosher salt and 1/2 cup sugar into 8 cups of water (may need to be divided into two bowls) until salt and sugar dissolve. Add pork chops and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, could be as long as overnight.
Blanch pearl onions in large saucepan of boiling water for 1 minute. Drain. Allow to cool slightly and peel. Heat 1/4 cup of oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and cook until tender and browned in spots, turning occasionally (8-10 minutes). Move onions and oil to medium bowl. Increase heat to high and heat 1 tblspoon oil in same skillet and add 1/2 red onion and 1/2 peppers and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add crushed red pepper and 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar. Season to taste wit salt and pepper and turn heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in 1/2 reserved onions and 1/2 pickled cherry peppers. Add to tupperware if you plan on serving later. Repeat with the second half of peppers and onions. Add to tupperware with the first 1/2 and refrigerate if made in advance.
When ready to serve, prepare barbecue to high heat. Remove pork chops from brine and pat dry. Brush with oil and season with pepper. Grill about 5 minutes per side.
Place one pork chop on a plate and spoon bell pepper mixture over. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve!
Enjoy your dinner party!