Pork Chops with Sweet Potato Gravy
January 30, 2011
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Cajuns, like their French Canadian cousins, have a definite sweet tooth. How else to explain the popularity of maple sugar pie among the latter and the probable invention of pecan pie by the former? This recipe, that I adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s Louisiana Real and Rustic (New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1996), satisfies that sweet tooth as well as the Cajun love of cayenne and pork. Sweet but not cloying and spicy but not hot it is a tasty dish indeed. I served it simply with French-cut green beans.
- 1 medium sweet potato, about 12 ounces
- ¼ tsp. dried thyme
- ¼ tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. ground black pepper, preferable coarse grind
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1½ tsp. paprika
- ½ tsp. dry mustard powder
- 2 boneless pork loin chops, about 1 inch thick and 6 ounces each
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. flour, I use white rice flour
- 1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup pecan halves
- ¼ tsp. cayenne or to taste
- 1½ Tbsp. Steen’s 100% Pure Cane Syrup or 1 Tbsp. Karo syrup
- 2 green onions, white and crisp green parts, chopped
Preheat oven to 400°. Prick the sweet potato a few time with a small knife and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Bake in the hot oven for 15 to 20 minutes. You will be able to smell when it is done. Set aside to cool.
Break the pecans into pieces with a mortar and pestle or with a rolling pin on a cutting board.
Mix the thyme, oregano, garlic powder, black pepper, salt, cayenne, and paprika in a small bowl. Pat the pork chops dry and coat generously with the rub. Heat a cast iron skillet (it really is the best pan to use for this recipe) over medium-high heat. Add the oil, let heat for a few second, then the pork chops. Brown for 5 minutes per side then remove to a plate and set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium and sprinkle in the flour. Stir to combine with the fat in the pan, adding a bit more oil if needed. Cook the roux, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes until well browned. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are soft, about 5 or 6 minutes. Mix in the water, pecan pieces, and cayenne. Bring to a boil then add the sweet potatoes mashing until smooth. Stir in the syrup and green onions. Return the pork chops to the pan and bury in the gravy. Simmer on low heat for 5 minutes.