There’s nothing like a good fried pork chop. A delectable cut of meat, fried crisp, then covered in gravy made from its own drippings. Slap that on a plate with a side of mashed potatoes, fried okra, then you have found your way to this East Texas boy’s heart.

Mom would make this two or three times a month. I always found my way home for dinner on those nights. A meal like this is a classic and difficult to improve on taste. However, I am always looking for a way to elevate the old go-to meals of my parents.

The Better Half and I were thrilled to hear of the downtown opening of The White Peacock. This place is packed with a grand assortment of flavored olive oils and vinegars. This shop will inspire even the most timid cook to step up their culinary game. After collaborating with the owner, Rebecca West, we made a fantastic meal of grilled pork chops topped with a pear and onion mixture then drizzled with a maple balsamic glaze, roasted garlic and rosemary balsamic potatoes and asparagus sautéed in a Tuscan herb olive oil. We finished the meal with homemade beignets, covered in a reduced blackberry ginger balsamic glaze.

Maple Grilled Pork Chops with Pear and Onion

Ingredients:

11/2 cups of water

5 tablespoons kosher salt

2 tablespoons sugar

4 thick cut pork chops

1/2 cup basil infused olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon rosemary

1 cup maple balsamic vinegar

1/2 onion, diced

2 Bartlett pears, diced

2 tablespoons of butter

1 tablespoon brown sugar

Brine your pork chops:

In a large bowl combine water, salt and sugar. Stir until sugar and salt are dissolved. Place chops into brine and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Remove pork chops and pat dry. Coat them in olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary and garlic. Cover and allow to marinate while you prepare your pear and onion mixture and glaze.

In a sauce pan, melt butter, add brown sugar and whisk until well mixed. Add pears and onions and sauté until caramelized (about 10 minutes). Set aside.

Glaze:

In a small pot, pour Maple Balsamic, on medium to high heat, stirring often. Allow to come to a boil and reduce by half. The glaze will thicken as it cools.

Place pork chops on a 350 F grill and cook for 6 minutes on each side or until meat is firm. (The internal temperature of the pork chop should be 145 F). Top with pear and onion mixture, drizzle with glaze and enjoy.

Garlic and Rosemary Balsamic Potatoes

Ingredients:

1 bag Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes, halved

1/2 cup rosemary olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon rosemary

1/4 cup traditional balsamic vinegar

Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400 F. In a large bowl coat potatoes in olive oil, sprinkle rosemary and garlic and stir to coat. Pour into a cast iron skillet or baking sheet and bake until potatoes are tender (around 20 minutes). Remove from oven and drizzle with balsamic and salt. Place back in oven for 5 minutes. Stir and serve.

Sautéed Tuscan Asparagus

1 bunch asparagus, wooded ends trimmed

1/2 cup Tuscan herb olive oil

1 tablespoon pink sea-salt

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

Pour olive oil into a sauce pan and heat to medium. Add asparagus and sprinkle with salt and seasoning until coated. Sauté until dark green and wilted.

Beignets

Ingredients:

1/2 cup boiling water

2 tablespoons softened butter

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup whole milk

1/2 packet yeast

1/4 cup warm water (to dissolve yeast)

2 eggs, beaten

33/4 cups sifted flour

1 cup powdered sugar (to cover beignets)

1 cup blackberry ginger balsamic vinegar (for drizzle)

3 cups cooking oil

In a small pot, bring blackberry ginger balsamic to a boil, stirring often. Reduce liquid to half and set aside.

In a medium bowl, add butter, sugar and salt. Pour boiling water over this mixture and stir. Add milk and let stand until warm. Stir yeast into warm water and add to mixture along with the eggs. Stir in flour and mix well.

Sprinkle flour on counter or wax paper and roll out dough to a 1/4 inch thickness and chill until you are ready to cook. With a knife or pizza cutter, cut into 1 inch squares. Heat oil to 360 F and drop squares into oil, being careful not to crowd.

After about 1 minute, flip beignet with spoon and allow to cook until golden brown on both sides. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar while hot, and drizzle with warm blackberry ginger glaze.

Tips from Jason

The hardest part of cooking any meal is the timing, especially with a pseudo-complex meal such as this. That is why I like to give tips for getting everything out hot and fresh.

For this particular dinner, I prepped and chopped every thing first, put the chops on to brine and started the potatoes (which take the longest to cook). I sautéed the asparagus while the chops were resting. We cooked the beignets after dinner. It was all so good!

If you try it, please let me know what you think. You can email me at etxfoodguy@gmail.com or find me on Instagram @etxfoodguy. Be sure to check out the November issue of Charm magazine for more information on The White Peacock. If you stop by, tell Rebeca the ETX Food Guy sent ya!

If you have any questions or a recipe you would like me to try (and possibly feature), please email etxfoodguy@gmail.com or mail to: The Lufkin Daily News, Attention: Food Guy, 300 Ellis Ave., Lufkin TX 75904

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