Garlic-brined Heritage Pork Chop with Red Onion-Apple Salsa (special diet)

Kristina from recently reached out to local food bloggers for help in coming up with recipes for the wife of a California gentleman who has been placed on an extremely restrictive diet.

Working from a very short list of allowed ingredients (i.e., chicken or pork but not halibut or tuna,  only 45 grams of carbs/day and no dairy whatsoever), the challenge was to come up with something both highly flavorful and densely nutritional.  Additionally, I wanted the recipe to be both easily sourced and fairly simple to follow..


Garlic-brined Heritage Pork Chop with Red Onion-Apple Salsa


For the Brine

1 oz (by weight) coarse sea salt
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 teaspoon dried oregano (Mexican if available)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin (freshly toasted and ground if practical)
1/4 teaspoon mesquite liquid smoke (optional)
2 cups filtered water

Place water into a saucepan and heat to a rapid boil.  Remove from heat, add salt and stir until dissolved.  Add remaining ingredients and allow to stand until completely cooled.  Refrigerate until chilled.

For the Chops (allow 1 per person)

8 oz bone-in lean, center cut pork chop (I’m using my favorite Red Wattle chops from Farmhouse Delivery)
chilled brine

Trim chops of most cover fat (diet restriction) and place in a dish or zipper bag along with chilled brine.  If chops are thin, refrigerate 2-3 hours. If thick, refrigerate 3-4 hours.  In either case, turn chops over about halfway through the brining period.  In addition to adding flavor, the brining process will cause the chops to take on as much as 15% water weight, helping to ensure a tender, moist product.

For the Salsa

2/3 cup cored (and optionally peeled) fresh apple, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1/3 cup red onion, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1/4 cup fresh tomato, cut into 1/2 inch dice (yellow heirlooms are especially nice)
1/2 small jalapeño, stemmed, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, torn
1-1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice or 1 teaspoon raw cider vinegar
a pinch of sea salt and black pepper to taste
a pinch of unrefined sugar if needed (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl, cover and refrigerate 2 hours.

To Prepare

Remove the chops from the brine and pat dry on all surfaces (don’t squeeze).  Allow to stand while you prepare the heat source (outdoor grill or indoor grill pan [easiest]).

Sear meat over medium-high heat until well-marked, about 2-3 minutes per side.  Stand chops on end and place in a 400 degree oven until just done (about 10 minutes for thick-cut chops).  If using outdoor grill, stand chops on end away from flames, cover and finish until just done  (the goal is to allow most of the remaining fat to render and drip away [diet restriction]).

Remove chops from heat and allow to stand a full 5 minutes before serving with the crisp and cool apple salsa.

Classic Chile Verde

Hefty chunks of heritage pork and white onion are seared in a spoonful of seriously hot lard (gasp!) then slowly simmered in their own juices with stock, roasted tomatillos, Poblano and jalapeño peppers, garlic,  cilantro and lime.  Served with fresh white corn tortillas on the side..

Classic Chile Verde

Classic Chile Verde (adapted by recipes by Diana Kennedy and Simply Recipes)

1 pound fatty pork loin or shoulder, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1 white onion, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 fresh red or orange Anaheim, Poblano or other mild fresh chile (for color, optional)
2 fresh green Anaheim, Poblano or other mild fresh chile
1 fresh jalapeño pepper
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, loosely packed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon clean white leaf lard
2 cups homemade chicken stock
1/2 pound fresh tomatillos
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 scant teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Remove the husks from the tomatillos and rinse under cold water to remove sticky residue. Split tomatillos in half across the equator and arrange cut side up in a foil-lined skillet.  Sprinkle lightly with sea salt then roast along with the green chiles in a 450 degree oven until softened and partially charred.  Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, melt the lard in a heavy skillet over medium high heat until shimmering.  Add the pork, onions and red or orange pepper and fry without moving until deep golden brown on one side.  Use a tong or slotted spoon to turn the pork and onions over and continue to cook until well browned on the other side.  Reduce heat to medium low, add the garlic and cook one minute.   Add the stock and oregano cover and slowly simmer 60 minutes.

Peel the chiles, discard the stems and seeds and add to a blender or food processor along with the tomatillos and cilantro.  Pulse until mostly smooth, leaving a few small chunks.  Pour blended mixture into the pork and stock and stir to combine.  Simmer  partially covered, stirring occasionally until pork is fork tender, about 30 minutes.  Add lime juice and season to taste to salt and pepper.  Ladle into bowls and serve hot with freshly made corn tortillas.

This post is part of The Nourishing Gourmet’s  Pennywise Platter Thursday!

Garlic and Herb-Roasted Pork Loin with Savory Apple Compote

A bone-in heritage pork loin from Revival Meats in Yoakum, Texas gets royally roasted with heirloom garlic from Johnson’s Backyard Garden, cracked black pepper, coarse sea salt and lots of homegrown rosemary and sage.  Served with a savory compote of local gala apples, celery, onions, pan juices and a bit of raw cider vinegar..

Garlic and Herb-Roasted Heritage Pork Loin with Savory Apple Compote

The Red Wattle hog is a large, red hog with a fleshy, decorative, wattle attached to each side of its neck that has no known function.  The origin and history of the Red Wattle breed is considered scientifically obscure, though many different ancestral stories are known.  One theory is that the French colonists brought the Red Wattle Hogs to the United States from New Caledonia Island off the coast of Australia in the late 1700’s.  As they adapted well to the land, the Red Wattle quickly became a popular breed in the US.

Unfortunately, as settlers moved west, the breed began to fall out of favor because settlers came into contact with breeds that boasted a higher fat content, which was important for lard and soap.  Red Wattles were left to roam the hills of eastern Texas, where they were hunted to near extinction, until Mr. H.C. Wengler came across a herd in the dense forest and began breeding them into what they are today. Five year later, in a similar incident, Robert Prentice located another herd of Red Wattle hogs, which became known as the Timberline herd, after its wooded origins in eastern Texas.

Red Wattle hogs are known for their hardiness, foraging activity, and rapid growth rate. The sows are excellent mothers, who labor litters of 9-10 piglets, and provide good quantities of milk for their large litters.  They adapt well to a wide range of climates, making them a good choice for consideration in outdoor or pasture-based swine production.

Red Wattle pork is exceptionally lean and juicy with a rich beef-like taste and texture.  —Slow Food USA Ark of Taste

Chorizo Hash with a Fried Goose Egg

Freshly made Mexican chorizo is pan-fried with yellow onions, sweet peppers, chiles, fresh corn and toasted cilantro and topped with a giant fried goose egg..

Chorizo Hash with a Fried Goose Egg

For the Chorizo

1/2 pound fresh pork, about 80% lean, coarsely ground
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
2 whole cloves, ground
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
a pinch or two fine sea salt

Loosely combine all ingredients together in a non-reactive bowl.  Cover and refrigerate 4-6 hours or overnight.

For the Hash (serves 2)

1/2 pound chorizo
1 teaspoon bacon fat
2 ears-worth fresh corn kernels
1/2 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
1-2 fresh jalapeños, diced
3-4 small orange or red sweet peppers, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seed
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
freshly-ground black pepper

1 local goose egg per person

Heat bacon fat in a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add chorizo and cook until it begins to brown and crisp, then add corn, chiles, sweet peppers and cumin and cook until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.  Season to taste with black pepper and a pinch of salt if you think it needs it, then top with a fried egg.

Goose Egg vs. Chicken Egg

One goose egg provides about 20g protein, and is also a very good source of vitamins A, B6 and B12 as well as thiamin, riboflavin and folate.  Cook as you would chicken or duck eggs, simply allowing more time due to its large size.