I’ve been on vacation all week and this is the first time I have been able to sit down and compose my thoughts for a blog post. So, am I in Sunny Florida, you ask? Wandering the markets of Paris arm in arm with my wonderful hubby? Alas, non. I have been home by myself, up to my elbows in paint and spackling compound. We’ve been in our house for about six years now, and I’ve been meaning to tackle the sad state of the walls of the master bedroom since day one. Of course, I can’t just paint. I need new curtains. And if I get new curtains, I need a new duvet. And the new cover makes the chair in the room clash terribly, so I need to call Home Again to pick up the old one so I can buy a new (used) one…
You get the idea.
My plan to spend thirty bucks on a gallon of paint has evolved into a complete re-do which has taken the better part of this week. But quite frankly, it was time. I’ve been carting the same old bed room furniture around since college. It’s time to live like an adult and stimulate the economy by redecorating.
When I’m busy on a project like this, the last thing I want to think about is making dinner. My husband is always willing to pitch in for cooking; however, he too had a busy week, so I decided to plan meals that were simple and fifteen minutes in the making. Frozen Italian meatballs, a jar of Prego and a box of spaghetti—that kind of thing. Last weekend, before I started my decorating whirlwind, I had picked up a package of pork chops, figuring they could just be popped under the broiler and ready quickly. However, that sounded kind of boring, so I thought I could whip up a quick marinade to give them a bit more flavor.
In one of the dozens of cookbooks I check out at the library each year, I recently ran across a recipe for a coffee marinated pork loin that sounded really intriguing. Fortunately, I had copied the recipe and had all the ingredients to hand, so I decided to adapt it and use it on our chops. During a mid-morning break from my painting, I made myself a pot of coffee. One cup for me and the rest into a simple coffee bath. Because this was a test, I only submerged half the chops in the marinade and simply salted the other half as a backup in case the recipe was a total failure. I let the chops sit in the fridge, soaking until dinner time.
When I pulled them out, they had turned a rich mahogany color and seemed plumper. Under the broiler, the sugar caused the chops to caramelize brilliantly. I halfway expected I would end up with a pork macchiato, but they tasted nothing like coffee; instead they were full of a deep savory flavor with a back note almost, but not quite, like good quality soy sauce. The plain salted chops which I had made as a control group were bland by comparison.
It was definitely worth a fifteen minute coffee break to make a marinade. Besides, it forced me to sit down and actually read the Gazette in the morning for once.
So what kind of meals do you make when you are working hard and have no time or energy? Have you ever tried a coffee infused marinade? Curious as always…
Coffee Marinated Pork Chops
Inspired by a recipe for Coffee Roasted Pork Loin, by Allison Vines-Rushing and Slade Rushing, as found in “Southern Comfort”
2 cups hot, freshly brewed coffee
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3 Tbsp kosher salt
2 cups ice
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 tsp ground black pepper
4 bone-in loin chops
Pour the coffee into a large heat proof bowl. Whisk in the brown sugar and the salt until dissolved. Add the ice and stir until it melts and the mixture is cool to the touch. Add the garlic, thyme and pepper and stir to combine.
Place the pork chops in a shallow dish and cover with the marinade. Cover the dish and refrigerate at least four hours up to overnight.
When ready to cook, preheat the broiler and arrange a broiling pan at least 6 inches from the burners. Pat dry the chops with a paper towel and make 3 or 4 shallow ¼ inch cuts though the fat but not into the meat around the outside curve of the chop. (This keeps them from cupping up when cooking.)
Broilers vary, cook until golden brown (5-7 minutes) and then turn and cook the other side. Wrap in foil and let the chops rest for a few minutes before serving.