I was in one of those dark places the other evening where I was very hungry and very tired – the idea of cooking was stressing me out, but every time I thought of ordering out I felt like I was betraying all the food in my fridge. So I sucked it up and, as it always goes, getting in the kitchen bettered my mood immediately. This dish is what came of my culinary prozac. I used the beautiful varieties of sweet and spicy peppers and the onions from this week’s share, along with my Costco impulse buy of six avocados for seven dollars. I served this with a seared pork chop, because that is what I had handy – but this would work very well with chicken or fish as well. All in all the meal took about an hour, time well spent for a tasty homemade dinner.
I started with a quick salt and sugar brine for the pork, as I have mentioned before this is optional but it always improves the taste and texture of my pork chops and it’s something that can be done while you’re working on other parts of the meal. Just dissolve the salt and sugar in a bowl with cold water, add the pork and keep in the refrigerator. About 15 minutes before you plan to cook them, remove the chops from the refrigerator and pat dry.
Rice pilaf is rice that has been toasted, usually with some vegetables (onion and garlic, for example), then cooked in broth to. Start by heating some extra virgin olive oil in a medium sized sauce pan, then cook the diced onion until they are soft, roughly five minutes.
Add the garlic and cook another minute, being careful not to burn it. Then add your rice and stir for a couple minutes, allowing the rice to toast. Add the warm chicken stock and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover.
For the avocado creama combine the crème fraîche with salt and cumin.
Slice an avocado in half, you can remove the pit by hitting it in the center with the sharp side of your knife, so the knife cuts into the pit, then turn the pit slowly out of the avocado, and the pit should release, attached to your knife. Be careful and guard your hand with a kitchen towel while doing this. Once the pit is removed leave the avocado in its skin and gently run your knife through the avocado creating vertical, then horizontal lines in the flesh, like this.
Then using a spoon scoop the diced avocado out in one scoop. Place the avocado in a bowl and immediately toss with fresh lime juice.
Pour the cream and cumin mixture over the avocado and stir gently then add cilantro.
Set the avocado crema aside for later use.
After about 30 – 45 minutes, take the pork out of the brine a pat it dry. Slice the sweet and hot peppers into thin strips. Start by taking off the tops and bottoms of the peppers, then cut them in half. Remove the seeds and ribs, so that you have a flat piece of pepper to work with, then cut that into thin slices. I used two sweet peppers, one variety called chocolate peppers and another called tropical and one poblano pepper. If you wanted more heat you could add in another chili pepper, like a Jalepeño or Serrano. I also added a large minced shallot.
Preheat your oven to 425° then heat the canola oil in a large oven-proof frying pan. Once the oil is hot add the pork chops and leave them alone to sear for 3-4 minutes, then turn them over and allow the same amount of time on the other side. You’ll know the chops are ready to turn when the release from the pan easily, and have a golden brown sear.
Once the pork is seared on both sides remove it from the pan and place it on a plate. If there is a lot of fat in the pan pour some out, if there isn’t enough add a little more. There should be a very thin layer of fat in the pan. Add the peppers and shallots and a little salt. Stir, then allow the mixture to cook for several minutes, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are slightly soft.
Once the peppers have cooked a little add the Madeira and deglaze the pan by scraping any browned bits from the bottom. Return the pork chops to the pan with the shallots and peppers and add the chicken stock.
Place pan in the oven and cook until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 140°. Remove the pork and peppers from the oven, place the peppers and onion on a plate and serve with the rice and avocado crema.