Mom gets a lot of attention in my culinary storytelling. This post, however, is about Dad. His advice has shaped my life, usually for the better. (Just kidding. Totally a “Dad joke.”)
Over the past two months, I’ve reflected often on Dad’s frequent advice. Not, not “people in hell want ice water,” but, in the words of Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never give up.” Thanks to Dad’s constant encouragement, tonight, we finally ate the perfect honey and Sriracha pork chop.
The combination seemed so simple, so obvious. Hot and sweet, and slightly earthy from the ground chiles. Glazed on fatty, bone-in pork chops, it should be finger-licking and bone-sucking good. But oh, the reality.
Round 1: A even balance of honey and Sriracha was overpoweringly hot with little depth. The pan seared, oven-finished chops failed to crisp up.
Round 2: A rub of Chinese Five Spice, with high, cold notes of star anise, overwhelmed the weak sauce, which now had too much honey and too little heat.
Round 3: Ugh. Moving on.
Round 4: Stay with me. We’re channeling Churchill.
Tasting the ingredients more carefully I noted honey’s mild sugars and delicate earthy, floral notes. While rich, dark buckwheat honey, was a perfect solution, I acknowledged that it is hardly a common pantry item and switched to a blend of wildflower honey and brown sugar. I had finally nailed the glaze!
Success, however, was only glaze deep. The pork lacked flavor throughout, and my attempt to use the broiler, while effectively crisping up the fat, produced tough, overcooked pork – but oh that crispy fat!
Batch 5:Takin’ it home! A cooked glaze got rid of extra liquid that had plagued the pork. Sautéing over medium-high heat, and skipping the oven completely*, produced crisp, fatty edges on the chops. Adding the thickened sauce to the pan and turning the chops in the bubbling sauce a couple of times,coated them in a thick, shiny glaze. The earlier brine, delivered full flavor throughout the meat.
So, thanks Dad and thank you Winston. Now back to the ever-elusive moo shi pork.
*Thank you Paul!
Honey Sriracha Glazed Pork Chops
- 1/4 cup salt
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup Sriracha
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, preferably dark
- 2 tbs honey
- 2 tbs Sriracha
- 2 tbs brown sugar, preferably dark
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp lime juice
- 4 bone in pork chops
- 1 tbs neutral flavored oil like vegetable or grape seed
- Brine the pork: Whisk together the salt, honey, Sriracha and brown sugar with 1 cup hot tap water until the honey is dissolved. Add 6 cups cold water and 2 cups ice cubes along with pork. Make sure pork is submerged and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 3 hours. Longer brine, more flavor. Shorter brine, your family eats before midnight and is happy about it.
- Make glaze: Whisk together honey, Sriracha, brown sugar, soy sauce and lime juiced. Place in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat and cook until thick and shiny.
- Remove pork from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Discard brine. Season pork chops with salt and pepper.
- Warm oil until shimmering in a 12″ skillet set over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook 2-3 minutes until bottom is seared and easily releases from pan.
- Turn pork chops, pour over glaze and continue to cook until cooked through. If glaze begins to darken or smell like it might burn, reduce heat and finish cooking.
- Turn cooked pork chops a couple of times in the pan to coat with glaze, and serve.
- That wasn’t so hard, was it?