I love Trader Joe’s for the value, but I hate it for the ridiculous amount of packaging and the lack of seasonal regional produce. Nonetheless, these black plum beauties spoke to me. Yes, they actually said: Help! Please save us from the bottom shelf where nobody sees us! We’re so tart sweet – you’ll love us!
The white turnips are from Whole Foods and they are in season. Are you raising one eyebrow questioning my garnish? You can steam turnip slices or braise them in a ginger-shallot-garlic broth. Either way they add an earthy turnipy complexity.
My time at Le Bernardin kindled my respect for the turnip. And fish too – but that goes without saying. We used this undervalued veggie in some unique ways. My favorite being: turnip foam with fresh ginger. Although daikon is technically a white radish, it has a similar flavor, and daikon could certainly be used here – it’s also coming into season although I haven’t seen the fat ones yet.
For a change, let me tell you what is positively revolting with this dish – I was looking for some greens to pair and grabbed a bunch of dandelion greens because they’re a Spring crop and I normally like them with pork. Wow, do NOT put dandelion greens with this. Something about the bitter greens with the turnipy turnips does not go well. Uh-uh. Oh heck no. If you must put greens with this I’d opt for a less challenging juxtaposition. Braised or stirfried chard perhaps? Kale? Bok Choy? Young turnip greens?
The plum sauce is fresh. Blend (in a Vita Prep) sweet-sour plums with honey. Add a little sherry vinegar. Cook down until thick and glossy. Yes, it’s technically a gastrique, but I didn’t strain out the pulp. I finished the sauce with a dash of Sriracha, squeeze of lime, white shoyu, and freshly grated young ginger.
It’s best to cook pork chops medium-rare unless you want to eat a BBQ’d hockey puck. And unlike America’s Test Kitchen, I prefer to give them a nice sear and then cook at a lower temperature to finish. If you like your pork medium-well to well, brining will help to keep them juicy. I pre-salted and seasoned my pork chops a few hours before grilling. This gives the meat time to re-absorb the juices that the salt draws out and the spices too. No need to re-season before grilling. I slathered on the plum sauce towards the end of cooking to create a shiny laquer and caramelized crust.
If your chop has a nice thick rind of fat, start the chop on its fat side over low heat on the grill. I do this first before searing the faces. Otherwise the fat burns but it doesn’t really get a chance to get all nice and chewy-gooey – I lovvvvve that stuff!
- Plum Sauce:
- 4 sweet-tart black plums
- 3 tablespoons organic honey
- 2-3 tablespoons sherry vinegar (redwine vin could work too)
- 2 tablespoons white shoyu
- Juice of 1-2 limes
- 1 small nub of young ginger about 1/2-inch long, grated
- Pork Rub:
- 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon dry mustard
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon ground sichuan pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground star anise
- 1 teaspoon ground fennel
- 2 Boneless Pork Loin chops, 8 oz each or about 1 1/2-inch thick
For the plum sauce: in a Vita Prep blend the plums on high until completely puréed. In a small sauce pot heat the purée with the honey and vinegar. Once the sauce starts to simmer and turns glossy check the flavor. Depending on the plums the sauce might require more vinegar or honey. Add the ginger, Sriracha , white shoyu and taste again. Add the lime juice last. Refrigerate until ready to use. Will keep 3 to 4 days in the fridge.
Two hours before serving, wash the boneless pork chops under cold water and pat dry, rub the pork with the seasoning blend and refrigerate until ready to use. Allow chops to come up to room temperature before grilling. It's not necessary to wash the chops before cooking as is normally done to brined chops but if there are pools of juice just dab them dry with a paper towel.
Grill chops on the fat rind first over low heat for 4 minutes or until the fat begins to caramelize. Then sear the faces over medium-high heat until lightly browned (about 2 minutes each side). Finish the chops over medium heat until the internal temperature is medium-rare brushing the plum sauce to coat on one side for the last few minutes.