Sunday, January 3, 2010

Cuban Style Pork Chops

Cuban Style Pork, originally uploaded by Kim De.

Everyone has a nemesis, right? Well today I'd like to discuss mine. It is pork.

I can't seem to get pork to turn out exactly right. It is either undercooked in the middle and requires some doctoring, or it is too done and turns tough. I dont know what it is. I like pork, so it isnt like I am doing subconscious sabotage. I'd like to think it's simply because I dont have much experience in cooking it, and I need more practice. And so practice I will.

Enter practice dish #1 (lets just pretend, and call it #1). Butterflied Cuban Pork Chops. I looooove a good cuban sandwich - thinly sliced pork, swiss cheese, pickles, crusty bread all grilled....Ummmm. I was excited to try this recipe for all those elements.

I started out slicing the pork almost through, then pounding it before placing it is the marinade for several hours. Close to cooking time I pulled it out of the fridge and set up the assembly. So far so good.

I constructed according to directions then folded the top over. Cast iron skillet heated, I began to cook on one side, then the other, just as instructed. I noticed right away that the meat pocket began to thicken, all my flattening trouble gone to waste. I was concerned this would change the cooking time, but I pushed on.

Carefully I turned the chop over so as not to lose it's precious cargo. Victory! I cooked as directed on the other side, then removed it to investigate.

Was it done it the middle? Of course not! Was I frustrated? Of course I was. I did some quick thinking then popped it in the microwave for one minute. Done

So maybe it was "cheating". I certainly dont consider this a culinary victory with pork. I didnt cook it correctly. However, at the end of the day, it tasted like a moist, juicy, flavorful cuban sandwich. And for that, I'm grateful!

Butterflied Cuban Style Pork Chops (Bobby Flay)

3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh oregano leaves
6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup canola oil
4 (8-ounce) pork chops, butterflied -- and thinly pounded
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 (1/4-inch) thick slices Swiss cheese
8 (1/4-inch) thick slices boiled ham
2 sour dill pickles, thinly sliced -- (need about 16 slices)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 cup olive oil

Heat the grill to high.

Whisk together 1/2 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup lime juice, 3 tablespoons oregano, the garlic, cumin, and canola oil in a large baking dish. Add the pork and turn to coat. Cover and let marinate for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours in the refrigerator.

Remove the pork from the marinade and pat dry. Place the chops on a flat surface, cut-side up and season with salt and pepper. Place 1 slice of cheese, 2 slices of ham, a few slices of pickle and another slice of cheese on 1 half of the chop. Fold over brush the top with oil and season with salt and pepper. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Place the chops on the grill, oil side down and grill until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the chops over and continue grilling until the bottom is golden brown and the cheese has melted, 2 to 3 minutes longer.

Whisk the remaining orange and lime juices, oregano, and the cilantro with the olive oil and salt and pepper, to taste. Spoon over the chops and serve.

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