Orange Spiced Pork Chops
Orange Spiced Pork Chops is another recipe I learned from my mother when I started to cook, but have varied enough over the years that it is now a new recipe. The original was sweeter, and a little blander, and she used a jar of Spanish paprika that sat in the fridge for years and added color, more than flavor. (She kept it purely to add color… she, like most people we knew, considered paprika a garnish, rather than a spice, when I was a child. It’s been nice to see that change – and see more kinds of paprika that contribute real flavor become readily available.) For years I skipped the spice rub altogether (because it didn’t add anything, right??) but now I’ve added it back in – with better, more flavorful spice.
“Paprika” we say – as if it were one flavor…Each variety is a seasoning (not truly a spice, though we call it one) made of the dried fruits of various peppers – some hot, some sweet. That jar of Spanish paprika Mom had certainly had flavor when she opened it – though she never really used enough to notice. When we say Hungarian paprika, we usually mean a mild sweet one, used by the tablespoon in paprikash, goulash, and other recipes, though there is a hot Hungarian paprika available, also, which I like. And a current trend is smoked Spanish paprika, which (like the chipotle I have mentioned before) adds a smoky depth of flavor. Right now, I have the classic Hungarian sweet paprika (in the red tin…) so I used it – and really noticed the flavor of it more than I have in some other dishes. I recommend trying it – but you can also vary the recipe with hot or smoked paprika – that one small variation will change the end result quite nicely. This version, with sweet paprika, is spiced, but not “spicy” as in hot – these are spices that have lots of flavor, but no heat.
First I made the dry rub. I’m afraid there are a lot of Dashes and Pinch’s in this recipe, because I only cooked two chops, not four or six, and the original amounts were pretty small. And I am not going to fuss about grinding enough fresh pepper to measure out a quarter teaspoon…
So – a few dashes of salt, a few grinds of fresh black pepper, a few shakes of your paprika of choice. I would tend to pull back on the pepper if I used hot paprika – your choice. Mix the spices in a small bowl and set it aside.
I used boneless loin chops here, but I have used this recipe for any kind of pork chops I have on hand. I trimmed off the thick layer of fat along the edge. Then I put a pinch of the spice mix on each chop and rubbed it around with my finger, covering the meat. I flipped them over, repeated the process, and so until the whole chop was very lightly covered with the salt, pepper, and paprika mixture. (If you need a dash more, add it…) This is not a thick coating – just a touch of flavor. Then I stuck a single clove in the center of each chop.
Here, I tried a trick of my mother’s. When I was a kid, she would use the fat she’d trimmed off pork chops, render them over a low heat in the frying pan to grease it, and then brown the chops in their own fat, to preserve their own flavor. Then we all entered the OMG, Cholesterol is Evil! phase of nutrition science… so I always used oil. (Of course, when I started cooking, that meant I virtuously used corn oil – and now we’re told that is Evil! so you can’t win…) These days there is much less concern about dietary cholesterol (to which few people turn out to be sensitive) but a great deal of debate about various properties of various fats and oils. I feel that this is a cooking blog, not a nutrition blog, and I think you’re ahead of the game if you are cooking at home in almost any manner rather than eating takeout burgers and fried chicken. I also think that you already know what oil or fat you prefer to use, for your own reasons, and will use it no matter what I say… so I generally specify only when I think it matters for the flavor or other such cooking reasons. The flavor difference here is subtle, but I am sure there are people who would be interested in trying it – so I pass on the idea.
Anyhow, I heated and greased my pan, and browned the chops on both sides, with about 2 minutes a side over high heat. Then I lowered the heat, and added half a cup of orange juice, and a dash of cinnamon. I covered the pan and simmered it for 20 minutes. (Your timing may vary a bit if you use larger or bone-in chops.) Then I removed the cover, turned them over, and simmered another 10 minutes, without the cover, to let the juice reduce. It cooks down to an almost syrupy sauce which you can then pour over the chops, or rice.
When you serve it, do remember the clove stuck in the middle of the chop… I think it looks cute, but you probably want to remove it for children, or anyone for whom it might be a choking hazard, and make sure everyone else notices it. (Or you could just add a pinch of ground cloves with the cinnamon, instead of using the whole clove.)
It takes only a few minutes more than the most basic braised pork chops – but is a lovely variation. A major part of cooking every day is learning ways to vary a technique so that meals don’t get boring without the cook having to learn completely new recipes. Fruit complements pork beautifully, so there are many places you can go with this idea, and they are all just different enough to stay interesting, while you still get dinner on the table in good time.
Orange Spiced Pork Chops
- 1/4 t salt
- 1/4 t freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 t sweet Hungarian paprika
- 2 boneless loin pork chops
- 2 whole cloves
- 1/2 c orange juice
- dash cinnamon
- Mix the salt, pepper and paprika together.
- Trim the pork chops. Rub them lightly with the spice mixture on both sides. Insert one clove in the center of each chop.
- Brown chops in a greased pan over high heat, about 2 minutes a side. Lower the light.
- Add the juice and cinnamon to the pan. Cover, and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.
- Remove cover. Turn the chops over. Continue to simmer without the cover over low heat for 10 minutes or until chops are done and juice is reduced.
- Serve chops with orange sauce.