This was a Monday night dinner for Abby and me. Now I’m assuming your Mondays are a little different than mine. The restaurant is closed. I hammer through a to-do list that takes me right up until 2:00, then I rush to the grocery store. Most people are at work, so the aisles are empty. All of the week’s first deliveries have come in and the leftover stock has been moved to the back or marked down. I take my time window shopping in the produce aisle. I stop and make small talk with the butcher. About every other week I make it to the fish market with no agenda and always leave happy with fish for dinner.
This Monday the Brussels sprouts looked bigger and brighter than they have all season. The apples were some of the last of the local season. And the enoki mushrooms…well I have no idea why I bought the little phallic-looking bunches. I haven’t used them in years. Their chewy texture and ability to act as a flavor sponge makes them a viable option when cooking. Plus, I knew I’d get a laugh out of Abby. So there I was, an arm full and on my way home to cook for my wife who no doubt was smiling through her 33rd week of pregnancy. She’s got the baby, I got the dinner.
The sauce for this dish came together unintentionally for me. As I started balancing the sweetness of the sugar with the salty tamari, I fell right into the ponzu scheme.
Seared Pork with Ponzu Vinaigrette
2 boneless pork chops (or pork tenderloin)
1/2 pound of fingerling potatoes, halved
1/2 pound of Brussels sprouts (about 12 large), sliced
2 apples, cored and chopped
1 package enoki mushrooms (4 ounces)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup water
juice and zest of one lemon
juice and zest of one lime
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of organic tamari
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/4 cup neutral oil (safflower, grapeseed, rice bran, etc) if you don’t have any use olive oil
Toss the fingerlings with oil, salt and pepper and roast on a sheet tray at 400 degrees until tender and the edges start to brown. Remove them and set aside. Season the Brussels and apples with salt and pepper and add them on the same sheet tray you used for the potatoes. Roast until they are tender and cooked through. Set aside with the potatoes. Note: you can add some finely chopped raw bacon with the potatoes. The bacon renders as it cooks and will add extra flavor to your dish when you roast the Brussels and apples.
In a small sauce pan over medium heat, dissolve the brown sugar into the water. Next, turn off heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir very well.
Lastly, sear the pork over medium high heat in a heavy bottomed pan until it is golden brown. This will take about 5 minutes if your pork is an inch and a half thick and less time if it is thinner.* Toss the enoki mushrooms into the pan after removing the pork to cook them quickly. They only take about a minute.
Arrange the potatoes, apples and Brussels, mushrooms and pork on a plate. Serve with a generous drizzle of ponzu vinaigrette.
*When checking to see how far along in the searing process a piece of protein is, always turn heat down while the cover is on and let the splattering calm down before removing lid. This will avoid lots of greasy splatter on your hand and the stove range.
This is a great vegetable mixture to double the amount and have the next day! The Ponzu Vinaigrette will keep for a week refrigerated.