|Lick Your Chops served with Pesto-No-Pasta, also on this blog, and fresh arugula|
The Ingredients (for 2 hearty servings):
- 1 small green papaya, weighing approximately 600 g (or 1¼ lb)
- 25 g (or 3 tablespoons) of coarse sea salt
- 4 boneless pork loin chops, 2½ cm (or 1 inch) thick and weighing approximately 900 g (or 2 lb)
- 350 g (or 12 oz) of mushrooms (I used a mix of portobello and king oyster mushrooms)
- 115 g (or 4 oz) of onion
- 60 ml (or ¼ cup) of sherry
- table salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- cooking grade olive oil
- About 6 hours before you intend to eat the chops, place a large cast iron skillet in the oven and set the heat to 75°C (or 165°F).
- Remove the papaya skin, cut it in two, and scrape out the seeds.
- Roughly chop the papaya and grind it to a thick paste in a food processor or blender, adding a small amount of water if necessary.
- In a medium size bowl or a large measuring cup, dissolve the sea salt in 240 ml (or 1 cup) of boiling water.
- Add 710 ml (or 3 cups) of cold water to the salt solution.
- Add 240 to 475 ml (or 1 to 2 cups) of the papaya paste to the brine and stir to combine it thoroughly.
- Rinse and pat dry the pork chops, then use a slender carving fork to poke several holes into both sides of the chops.
- Using protective mitts, remove the skillet from the oven and place the pork chops into it.
- Pour the brine mixture over the chops so that they are submerged, adding more water if necessary.
- Place the skillet back into the oven for 3 to 4 hours, monitoring the temperature of the brine, which should be 60 to 70°C (or 140 to 160°F) for best activation of the papain.
- Meanwhile, dice the mushrooms and onions.
- About 45 minutes before eating, put on the mitts, remove the skillet from the oven, and empty it over a colander to discard the brine mixture.
- Rinse the skillet, and return it to the oven, and increase the temperature setting to 205°C (or 400°F).
- Rinse the chops briefly in cold water and pat them dry.
- Sprinkle the chops sparingly on both sides with table salt and black pepper, and spray or brush them lightly with olive oil.
- When the oven reaches the target temperature, turn on a stove-top burner to medium-high.
- Using protective mitts, remove the skillet from the oven and place it on the burner.
- Pour in enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the skillet, and immediately add the onions and mushrooms. Stir constantly until the oil is absorbed completely.
- Immediately pour the sherry into the skillet and stir again until it is almost completely evaporated.
- Scoop the mushroom-onion mixture into a bowl and set it aside.
- Immediately place the pork chops into the skillet and brown them lightly on one side for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Turn the chops over, then add the mushrooms and onions back into the pan.
- Replace the skillet in the oven.
- After 5 minutes, begin checking the internal temperature of the thickest chop. When it reaches 60°C (or 140°F), remove the chops from the oven and serve.
It's amazing how long you can live without really feeling confident about cooking a pork chop. So when I came across an article in the kitchn that promised tender and juicy pork chops I had to try it. Tasty and juicy they were, but not really tender. Knowing that papaya is a natural tenderizer, I searched for and found a recipe for papaya paste, posted on The Curry Guy's blog. Green papayas are rich in papain, which breaks down protein, thus tenderizing meat. Adding this to the original recipe and including my own touch with the onions and mushrooms, I ended up with some of the best pork chops I've had anywhere.