Vietnamese Pork Chops with Pickled Watermelon and Watermelon Gazpacho with Feta Crema

Vietnamese Pork Chops with Pickled Watermelon

Vietnamese Pork Chops with Pickled Watermelon

I’ve mentioned in other post how much I love my subscription to Bon Appetit.  When it arrives in the mailbox, I sit down and go through it page by page, dog-earing the pages with recipes I want to make.  The August issue has been particularly good.  When I saw this recipe for Vietnamese pork chops, I knew I had to try it.  I’ve been on a hardcore watermelon kick lately so the fact that the recipe included watermelon made it a slam dunk.

I’ve had bad experiences with pork chops in the past.  In my mind they’ve always been synonymous with ultra-dry, chewy stuff.  Yuck!  I am however, obsessed with Vietnamese cuisine so I thought this might be a good opportunity to give it a go and see if I could conquer my fear of making pork chops into packed dust.

As it turns out, August has finally delivered the cold, foggy San Francisco summer we warn prospective visitors about.  After the pork chops had marinated, I just couldn’t bring myself to descend into the misty, windy backyard and stand in front of the grill while they cooked.  The cast iron skillet came to the rescue and the results were absolutely amazing.

The best part of eating amazing food is sharing it with amazing people.  We shared this meal with one of our favorite people in the universe who does her research and arrived with an amazing dry Riesling that worked magic with the food.

This one takes a little preparation because you have to pickle the watermelon rind the night before, which for us wasn’t a problem because we’re up to our ears in watermelon rind at the moment.  It sound really weird, but believe me, it’s worth it.  Make this recipe and invite your favorite people to dinner.  You won’t be sorry.

VIETNAMESE PORK CHOPS WITH PICKLED WATERMELON

INGREDIENTS

PORK CHOPS

  • 2 small shallots, thinly sliced into rings
  • ¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoons Sriracha
  • 4 1″-thick bone-in pork chops 
(about 2 ½ lb. total)

SALAD

  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 4 small shallots, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups trimmed purslane or arugula
  • ½ pound seedless watermelon, rind removed, cut into pieces, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup Pickled Watermelon Rind, thinly sliced

PREPARATION

PORK CHOPS

  • Whisk shallots, soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, and Sriracha in a shallow baking dish. Add pork chops and turn to coat. Cover and chill, turning occasionally, 
at least 1 hour.
  • Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Remove pork chops from marinade, scraping off excess, and grill until cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.  (I heated 1Tbsp of olive oil in a cast iron skillet and seared the pork chops on one side for 3 minutes, filled them and then transferred them to a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes until the temperature was 145 degrees.)
  • DO AHEAD: Pork chops can be 
marinated 12 hours ahead. Keep chilled.

SALAD

  • Heat 4 Tbsp. oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, about 4 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain; season with salt.
  • Whisk vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Add purslane, watermelon, and Pickled Watermelon 
Rind; season with salt and pepper and toss gently to coat.
  • Serve pork chops with watermelon salad topped with fried shallots.

 

PICKLED WATERMELON RIND

Pickled Watermelon Rind

Pickled Watermelon Rind

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 pounds watermelon
  • 1 serrano chile, thinly sliced, seeds removed if desired
  • 1 1″ piece peeled ginger, thinly sliced
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup unseasoned rice vinegar

PREPARATION

  • Using a vegetable peeler, remove 
tough green rind from watermelon; discard.
  • Slice watermelon 1″ thick. Cut away all 
but ¼” flesh from each slice; reserve flesh 
for another use. Cut rind into 1″ pieces. (You should have about 4 cups.)
  • Bring chile, ginger, star anise, salt, peppercorns, sugar, vinegar, and ½ cup water to a boil in a large saucepan, stirring 
to dissolve sugar and salt. Add watermelon rind and return to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until just tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool, setting 
a small lid or plate directly on top of rind 
to keep submerged in brine, if needed.
  • Transfer rind and liquid to an airtight container; cover and chill at least 12 hours

WATERMELON GAZPACHO WITH FETA CREMA

Watermelon Gazpacho with Feta Crema

Watermelon Gazpacho with Feta Crema

INGREDIENTS

GAZPACHO

  • 1 pound seedless watermelon, rind removed, coarsely chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 1 large beefsteak tomato, coarsely chopped
  • 1 English hothouse cucumber, 
 peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds removed, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

CREMA AND ASSEMBLY

  • ¼ cup almonds
  • 2 ounces feta, preferably French sheep’s milk, crumbled (about ½ cup)
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • ¾ pound seedless watermelon, rind removed, cut into ½” pieces (about 2 cups)
  • ½ English hothouse cucumber, peeled, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • Olive oil (for serving)
  • Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

PREPARATION

Purée watermelon, tomato, cucumber, jalapeño, oil, and vinegar in 
a blender until smooth.GAZPACHO

  • Transfer gazpacho to a large bowl; season with kosher salt and pepper. Cover and chill at least 1 hour before serving.
  • DO AHEAD: Gazpacho can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.

CREMA AND ASSEMBLY

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Toast almonds on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, about 8–10 minutes. (Alternatively, you can do this step in a dry small skillet over medium heat.) Let almonds cool, then coarsely chop.
  • Mash feta into sour cream in a small bowl until mostly smooth, then whisk in milk.
  • Divide watermelon and cucumber among bowls and pour gazpacho over. Top 
with crema and almonds, drizzle with oil, and season with sea salt and pepper.
  • DO AHEAD: Crema can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
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Bacon Jalapeño Poppers

Bacon Jalapeño Poppers

Who are we to not gather with raised, endless glasses of tequila and lime juice to celebrate the Mexican army’s victory over French forces in 1862?  Cinco de Mayo seemed like the perfect excuse to have some good friends over, drink some margaritas and cook some delicious Mexican-inspired food.  After searching the internets for some appetizer inspiration for  jalapeños, I ran into the bacon suggestion and that was all it took.  The combination of flavors works really well.  Just plan your quantities carefully, they’re very popular on the  one hand, but on the other, it’s impossible to stop eating them until they’re gone and if you overdo it, you’ll remember.

Bacon Jalapeño Poppers

Ingredients

4 Fresh jalapeños, sliced lengthwise and seeded (adjust quantity as needed)

Monterey Jack cheese sliced about 1/2″ thick the length of a jalapeño (I tried grated and sliced and sliced works much better)

2 strips of bacon

Method

Preheat oven to 350.

Arrange sliced, seeded jalapeños on parchment-lined cookie sheet

Place cheese on each jalapeño.

Cut bacon to cover cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Without moving the rack, broil under high heat for 2-3 minutes