As spring has finally arrived in Chicago, the local markets have started changing their available produce. This has led to a lot of impulse buys for me, and grand plans for solitary meals. On one such day I happened to notice Trader Joes was selling frozen figs, and I thought to myself, I have never cooked with figs, I wonder what I could do
As it turns out, the sweetness of figs goes quite well with pork, or so my local internet seemed to suggest, so I gathered the following ingredients to see what I could whip up
pork chops, mashed flat with a meat hammer (or a regular hammer wrapped in wax paper, whatever’s handy)
1 bag frozen figs and/or 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 cup low salt chicken broth from bouillon cube
1 tsp chopped thyme
cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper
1 cup red wine
1 tbsp minced garlic
According to one of my favorite DIY cookbooks, The Flavor Bible, all these pair together, and are pretty standard in most kitchens. Looking around I also saw my favorite cooking tool of the month
My all purpose cast iron skillet. Perfect for Stovetop, oven, nonstick, evenly distributed heat, I have been playing with it all month for meat cooking.
Put your skillet on high heat with the oil in for about 5 minutes to give it time to heat up, while simultaneously preheating your oven to 425. If you dont have the time or inclination to do a two step cooking process, you are missing out, but you can do this solely in the skillet. Once the pan is hot, season the chops with salt, pepper, and chile, then cook without turning 2 minutes on a side, flipping once
Once flipped, you should notice the golden brown sear above. Cook an additional minute on the stovetop, then toss the whole thing, skillet and all into the oven for 5 minutes. Once you remove the pork from the oven, take it out of the pan and set it aside to rest while you make the sauce
On to the sauce! First deglaze the pan with the red wine scraping all those juicy browned bits off the bottom for 1 minute. Then add the garlic, balsamic and figs roughly chopped. Cook for another minute and add 1 cup chicken broth and thyme and cook for about 5 minutes, steadily mashing figs until the broth is reduced by about 1/2.
With the hardest part out of the way, Add the pork and any juices that have drained back into the pan along with a tablespoon of butter to help thicken the sauce and coat both sides. Then toss over some rice or veggies and voila
Admittedly, Not my prettiest dish, but plating isn’t my strong suit, and the flavors were fantastic. Sweetness from the figs, savory from the pork, served over rice and red beans I had laying around and quite the filling meal resulted. In the future, I would use more pork, or less figs as the sauce to meat ratio was a bit large, but for ease of preparation (only had to buy pork and figs, everything else was around) and overall taste, this was truly,
…A Great Ingestion.