Seasonal Comforts: Spicy Asian Pork Chops with Sautéed Mushrooms

My family is lucky enough to be members of a Community Sponsored Agriculture (CSA) program hosted by Harmony Valley Farm in southeastern Wisconsin. Every other week, about a bushel or so of gorgeous fresh vegetables is waiting for us at our chosen pick-up spot. Sometimes we're swimming in tomatoes. Other times, we're up to our ears in onions. The offerings change throughout the season - which lasts from early May until late December - and we get a chance to try a lot of different vegetables, both new and familiar. One of our favorite offerings are the different types of hot peppers and this recipe features both ingredients and recipe ideas (namely, the delightful chili-garlic sauce) from our farm. If you don't have access to Korean peppers, alternatives that are more widely available will also work.

One of the things that makes this a perfect autumn comfort food is the combination of maple syrup, miso, and spicy peppers present in the sauce blended with the tender, juicy pork chops and the delightfully browned mushrooms that sandwich it from below and above. I much prefer a bone-in pork chop for a recipe like this since it tends to take a lot more to dry them out and part of what makes this recipe work so well is a good, juicy pork chop to showcase a spicy-sweet sauce. When used in this way, it nearly becomes an Asian-inspired barbecue sauce!

By keeping the mushrooms very simply sautéed with your choice of cooking fat and a little salt and pepper, if desired, they let the sauce be the centerpiece of this dish and they offer a delightful texture coupled with a gentle umami flavor. For anyone who, like me, loves mushrooms, this is a perfect way to enjoy them.

Keep the sides for a dish like this simple, since there's a lot going on in the main course. I opted for a salad featuring greens, chopped romanesco broccoli, and shredded carrots - all from our CSA share - tossed with a light vinaigrette. A tall glass of chilled cider can help offset the spiciness of the dish and highlight the subtle sweetness offered by the maple syrup in the sauce. It's a pretty, tasty, creative meal that gives all kinds of nods to the season. Just what we're looking for as November begins!

Spicy Asian Pork Chops with Sautéed Mushrooms

  • 4 oz. fresh Korean peppers or other peppers of similar size and heat (like serranos or jalapeños)
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic
  • ⅓ c. miso
  • ¼ c. maple syrup
  • ¼ c. soy sauce
  • 2 T. cooking fat of your choice (I used bacon fat), divided
  • 2 large, bone-in pork chops
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced

Remove the stems and roughly chop the Korean peppers into 1-inch pieces. Put the peppers in a food processor along with the garlic cloves and roughly chop them until they are a fine, yet chunky paste.

Add the miso, maple syrup, and soy sauce. Blend together until a paste forms.

Taste and adjust the flavor as needed. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the paste for the pork chops and place the rest of the paste in a small resealable jar and use with everything from stir-fries to cheese trays.

Heat 1 tablespoon of cooking fat over medium-high heat in a large, non-stick skillet. Add the pork chops and season the top side with salt and pepper; allow the chops to sear on one side for 4 minutes before carefully turning, seasoning again, and allowing them to cook for an additional 4 minutes.

Turn the chops once more and, using a brush, carefully coat the chops evenly with the reserved chili-garlic paste. Allow to cook for another 1-2 minutes or until the chops are fully cooked. Remove to a plate and keep warm.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of cooking fat to the same skillet you cooked the chops in and warm over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the mushrooms and sauté until tender and browned, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning before plating.

To plate, place a pork chop on a serving plate and arrange a generous amount of mushrooms on and around the chop. Serve immediately.

  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

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