Cuban Pork Chops & Green Mojo Salad

This post is part of a series celebrating diversity and bounty in the kitchen during the month of November. I’ll be posting a new recipe every day for 30 days. Subscribe to receive email updates on the project in the sidebar on the post page here, or follow along on Instagram at @dianaprichard and the #Feast30 hashtag.

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The bane of the hog farmer’s existence is the near-extinction of the American home cook. Because hogs have a reputation of being stout, brawny animals their meat is often thought to be nearly as indestructible as they are. It’s too often misused and abused, resulting in an unpleasant eating experience. The truth is that while live hogs are every big as burly as you imagine, the meat that comes from them is much more fragile. When it comes to preparation it’d better be compared to lamb than beef. It doesn’t take overcooking of any kind — either the heat being too high or spending too much time over it — well. The trick to a good pork chop, whether you’re cooking it indoors or out is a good, quick sear and then a steady, but-not-too-slow cook through.

As for this particular recipe, these chops have a bit of a kick on the back side. Nothing jarring, but they finish strong, which is something I love. The inspiration? A great cuban sandwich with a sweet-tangy jus dipping sauce I had at the Jolly Pumpkin in Traverse City over the weekend. I wanted a version that was a bit more grown up, with less bread, and this combo definitely does the trick.

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If the jus for the salad dressing seems a little underwhelming on its own, give it a chance anyway. I was skeptical as I was mixing it up, but the light, sweet flavor is a great balance to for the stronger, heavier seasoned pork chops. 

And this is also where I remind you that pork varies widely in both flavor and quality. For the best result try to buy pork directly from an experienced farmer who selects specifically for flavor. Don’t be afraid to ask them about their business. If they’re following the national pork producer council’s recommendations or the USDA’s grading matrix, keep looking. This has everything to do with what the meat will end up tasting like on your plate. While you’re going to be hard pressed to find a really good pork chop from a big farm, it’s due to the market pressures those farms face. It has nothing to do with “factory” farming versus small or “family” farming as practices themselves. You can find bland, white, overlean pork on small, family farms, too. Any farmer who is knowledgable about pork flavor and quality is going to be able to talk your ear off about it.

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No matter what, just remember not to overcook it. Pork gets a bad and mostly undeserved reputation of being more dangerous than other meats and while that can be true, modern rearing practices and medical science has made it not nearly the issue it once was. Cook your chops to 135 degrees and then let them rest, they’ll continue to cook for the first few minutes after they’re removed from the heat. Hitting that critical “safe” temperature without compromising any of the natural juiciness.

Cuban Pork Chops & Green Mojo Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Cuban
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 C Orange Juice
  • 2 Limes
  • ⅛ C Yellow Mustard
  • ⅛ C Brown Deli Mustard
  • 1 T Red Chili Flakes
  • 1 T Oregano
  • 1 T Dill Seed
  • 6 Pork Chops
  • 1 C Stock; Chicken, Pork or Vegetable
  • Juice of 1 Orange
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • ½ tsp Worchestershire Sauce
  • 1 tsp Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 Romaine Hearts, washed, trimmed and cut for salad
  • 1 large Cucumber peeled and sliced thin
  • 2-4 Green Onions, diced
  • Salt
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • Approx. 3 T Vegetable Oil
Instructions
  1. Combine 1 cup (fresh or storebought, your choice) orange juice, juice of 1 lime, yellow mustard, deli mustard, red chili flakes, oregano and dill seed for marinade. Pour over porkchops in a shallow dish and allow to marinate overnight.
  2. Whisk together juice of 1 orange, juice of the other lime, garlic worchestershire sauce and red wine vinegar. Toss in a large serving bowl with romaine, cucumber and green onion. Set aside in fridge while you work.
  3. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over high heat until piping hot. While the pan warms remove pork chops from marinade and salt and pepper each chop liberally on both sides. Over high heat sear both sides of each chop, working in batches and setting seared chops aside as you go if needed, and then reduce heat to medium-low and cook until pork chops reach an internal temperature of 135 degrees.
  4. Allow chops to rest 10 minutes before serving.
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