Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Tale of Two Dishes

Happy 250th Post!

"It was the best of meals, it was the worst of meals..."

A few weeks ago I put forth another cooking challenge. Naturally, I went to the store, picked my ingredients and made possibly what could be the worst meal in Back Porch Gourmet history. As it turns out, eggplant, jicama and rutabaga don't go well together. I'm not going to post the recipe, but I'll detail what happened.

In the store, I found some large eggplants and figured I'd make some ratatouille. Having never eaten eggplant or ratatouille, I knew it required tomato, but didn't check any other ingredients. So I added a bag of roma tomatoes to my basket. Then I saw the jicama and thought I'd make a salad to go with it or something. Again, I've never eaten jicama before, so it was all new to me. Finally, I grabbed a rutabaga, and figured I'd put it in my ratatouille. We got some onions, and some stew beef meat-- I thought it would be an interesting change to add meat to a traditional vegetarian dish.

That night I brought it all together. I seared the eggplant in my shallow Ikea Favorit grill pan, carmelized the onions, browned the beef, sauteed the vegetables, and reduced the tomatoes into a sauce. I put all the ingredients into a casserole and topped it with the tomato sauce and baked it for half an hour. It looked really good. Unfortunately, it tasted terrible. Some vegetables were still cold and uncooked, some were burned, and it didn't seem to go well together at all. We threw it all out.

Then last night, we were at the store for their case-lot sale, and they didn't have what we needed in stock, so we just got a raincheck. We were hungry, so naturally, we went to the butchers and got some pork loin end chops with the most amazing fat marbling I've ever seen. Then we went to produce and got some fresh green beans (my 2 year old daughter loves them more than candy) and hit the bakery and got a loaf of french bread.

Once we got home, I seasoned the pork with a pinch of kosher salt, ground black pepper and a dash of garlic salt. I seared them in the Ikea grill pan. While the pork was cooking, I made some Alabama barbecue sauce, a white mayonnaise based sauce that complements pork quite well. Once they were cooked to medium-rare, I basted them with Alabama barbecue sauce on both sides. Then I removed the chops from the pan, added some more olive oil, and skillet-grilled the green beans. Served with french bread on the side and a dash of olive oil in a little bowl, this was one of the best meals I've cooked in a long time.

So why the opposite effect for two meals, using the same pan separated by a week? For one, the eggplant disaster was amplified by the fact that I've never cooked with those vegetables before. I think a big part of it is that I didn't Keep It Simple Stupid! Lately I've been trying to one-up myself with each dish that I've lost track of the point of why I started this blog-- to have fun! I didn't have fun making and eating the eggplant disaster, but the chops were quite fun to make and eat! The eggplant disaster also tanked because I had no plan whatsoever, and didn't really care how it turned out. I've been making it too complicated, so I'm going to try to go back to basics. Without further ado, here is the recipe for the Alabama Barbecue Pork Chops:

Alabama Barbecue Pork Chops
Cast Iron Grill Pan
Medium Heat
45 minutes
4 Servings

  • 4 pork loin end chops
  • dash kosher salt
  • dash ground black pepper
  • dash garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup Alabama barbecue sauce
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 pound fresh green beans
Season pork chops with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Preheat grill pan and add dash olive oil. Sear on medium high heat in preheated grill pan. Turn and rotate to make nice sear marks until cooked to medium-rare. Baste both sides with Alabama barbecue sauce and cook for 5-7 more minutes per side. Remove chops from pan, add more olive oil and sear green beans long enough to make them soft but still crunchy. Serve with french bread.

5 Stars

Alabama Barbecue Sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Mix ingredients together well until all lumps are removed. Store in refrigerator for up to a month.

Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!


  1. I'm a big fan of white sauce for chicken but haven't thought to try on pork chops like this, what a great idea.

  2. It helps to have the world's most perfect pork chop as well. Seriously it had the best marbling I've ever seen! Sooo tasty!