Pork Chops with Spicy Red Beans

Have you ever read the book “If you give a mouse a cookie…” It was my kid’s favorite book when they were little.  It’s a classic for me as well, you start with one thing and before you know it, it leads to a whole host of other things.  I made Polenta last night because I had some on hand and I didn’t feel like eating rice (gasp!) and once I made the Polenta, well I wanted some Pork chops to go with it and then I wanted a Chocolate dessert….you see where this is headed?  I do like pork chops occasionally.  They are versatile and can be oh so tasty!  I had some red beans on hand and decided to use cumin and coriander as well as a little ginger and garlic to bring out the flavor of the beans and pork chops.  They turned out really tasty and went VERY well with the grilled Polenta.

Ingredients at a glance
Sear the pork chops in a skillet
Saute thinly sliced onions and all the spices for 2-3 minutes
Add chicken broth, tomato paste and red beans and simmer gently
Add the pork chops to the sauce, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or until chops are tender
Serve with creamy or grilled polenta! hmmmm

Here’s the recipe:

Pork Chops with Spicy Red Beans

3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 pork chops, (I liked the bone in chops)

2 red onions thinly sliced with a Mandolin

3 garlic cloves

1 inch piece of fresh ginger (I always mix my garlic and ginger together in a paste)

2 fresh Serrano Chilis

1 1/2 tsp Cumin seeds

1 1/2 tsp Coriander Powder (that’s the Cilantro seed)

2 1/2 cups of chicken stock (or you can use water if you prefer)

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 can of red beans (14 ounce size)

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large skillet and add the pork chops to the pan to give them a nice sear on both sides.  Set aside.  Add the thinly sliced onions and all the spices except for the tomato paste and stir fry for about 2-3 minutes until onions are tender.  Add in chicken stock and tomato paste and bring to a simmer.  Add in drained and rinsed red beans and simmer an additional minute before placing the pork chops into the sauce.  Cover and simmer gently over medium heat for 30 minutes or until the chops are tender and cooked through.  Goes really well with Savory Herbed Polenta.

Nasi Goreng ~ Indonesian Style Fried Rice

There are so many ways to cook rice, the possibilities are endless.  The continent of Asia alone has about a thousand variations.  I love how the same spices used in slightly different combinations can produce a totally different taste.  Nasi Goreng is an Indonesian style of fried rice.  There are many different ways of making Nasi Goreng, some people add prawns, steak or chicken, others add a variety of vegetables, basically whatever is leftover and on hand.  But some of the basic spices don’t change.  The key to Nasi Goreng is using Kecap Manis or Sweet Soy Sauce.

Kecap Manis or Sweet Soy Sauce

Kecap Manis is made from fermented soy, date palm sugar (jaggery) and several other spices.  It is quite thick and has several layers of flavor that is very different from regular soy sauce.  It is delicious.  The other must have items in Nasi Goreng are red chilis and Sambal Oelek.  I like to use both.

Red Chilis and Sambal Oelek

Sambal Oelek is a red chili paste found in any Asian super market (same place where you’d pick up some of the Kecap Manis).  Cumin and Coriander are also used.  This adds a slight smoky flavor and balances out the sweetness of the Kecap manis and the heat of the red chilis.

Even though garlic, cumin, coriander and chilies are regularly used in South Asian cooking, when combined with the Sambal Oelek and Sweet soy sauce it completely changes the taste.  This dish is widely eaten in Malaysia, Singapore and of course Indonesia.  Served hot with that wonderful fried egg on top, it is amazing.  You can’t stop eating it!

Left over Basmati Rice
Make a well in the middle of the wok and add eggs to the mixture
Add rice to vegetable mixture
Add caramelized onion
Nasi Goreng served with fried egg

Here’s the recipe:

Nasi Goreng

6 cups cooked rice (preferably overnight)

2 large eggs

Salt according to taste

6 tablespoons cooking oil

3 cloves of finely chopped garlic

1 onion, finely chopped

2 red chilies, seed removed and sliced finely

1 teaspoon Cumin

1 tsp Coriander seeds

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

2 tbsp Kecap Manis (sweet soy sauce)

2 tsp Sambal Oelek

3 Stalks of celery, chopped

1 whole tomato, seeded and chopped

½ cup frozen green peas

4 finely chopped scallions

Additional eggs to serve over rice

1 large onion, thinly sliced (for caramelized onion)

In a large frying pan or wok heat oil and add 1 large onion very thinly sliced (using mandolin really helps to keep it very thin).  Cook until onions are dark golden brown in color and place in a paper towel lined pan.

Beat the eggs in a bowl until foamy. Add a little salt according to taste. Set aside. Use a food processor to process the onion, chili, tomato, Sambal Oelek, garlic, sugar, cumin and coriander until it became a thick paste.

In the same pan that the onions were caramelized earlier add the processed paste and cook until it is fragrant. Add the vegetables except for the sliced scallions and stir fry for a few minutes.  Make a well in the middle of the pan and add beaten eggs.  Stir fry eggs until cooked and mix in with the rest of vegetables.  Finally add in the cooked rice and a more cooking oil if necessary. Add the Kecap Manis (Sweet Soy Sauce) and scallions and continue frying for another 30~60 seconds, until it is well incorporated. Finally add caramelized onions and toss.

Scoop from the wok onto a plate and serve with a fried over-easy egg on top.  If using as a side dish then serve without the egg on top.