Roasted Pork Chops with Jeweled Rice Pilaf
This jeweled rice pilaf was inspired by a dish made for me by a Lebanese friend.
The already aromatic basmati rice is spiced with cinnamon, cumin, and allspice
and is bespeckled with dried fruits and nuts. The pork chops are glazed with an
orange-cardamom reduction that further enhances the flavors of this dish.
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Season the pork chops on both sides with 2 teaspoons
of the salt and 1 teaspoon of the pepper. Sprinkle
both sides of the pork chops with the flour and set aside. Set a 12-inch flameproof casserole pan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the ghee. When the oil is hot, place the pork chops in the pan and sear for 3 minutes per side. Transfer the pork chops to a plate and set aside.
3. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons ghee to the pan
and, when hot, add the onion, carrot, cinnamon, allspice,
cumin, and bay leaf and cook over medium heat, scraping the bottom of the pan, until the onion and carrot are lightly caramelized, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the dates, apricots, currants, and basmati rice, stir to coat, and cook until the rice is fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the stock,
saffron, orange zest, yogurt, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1⁄2 teaspoon pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and place the pan in the oven for 10 minutes.
4. Remove the pan from the oven and, working quickly,
place the pork chops on top of the rice. Cover and return the pan to the oven. Continue to cook until the pork is cooked through and has reached 140°F, 8 to 10 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.
5. While the pan is in the oven, combine the orange juice
and cardamom pods in a 1-quart saucepan and cook over
medium-high heat until the juice has reduced by half, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the apricot jam and stir until melted. Strain the reduction through a fine-mesh sieve. Set aside until ready to serve the pork and rice.
6. Brush the chops with the orange juice reduction and garnish with the almonds, pistachios, and mint. Serve immediately.
Yield: 4 servings