The warmth of summer has been gently coaxing me out into the fresh air, into the golden rays of the sun. My pallor has slowly gone from winter’s ivory-pale to a subtle, peach flush as I sit for short periods of time on the concrete walkway, heating my bones. It just feels so good. I find myself with an appetite for things fresh off of a vine, and for that taste of a caramelized, seared crust on a piece of grilled meat. Summer’s a time for a change of pace, however slight, with emphasis placed on enjoying the good things that the warm weather brings in. It’s a time for experimenting and for creating new twists on classic pairings, and for savoring the flavors of the longer days and warmer nights.
Fresh, juicy peaches are something I look forward to most about the summer time; they are the sweet candy of nature. There’s nothing quite like them, and what a pleasure to eat they are, even with the juice dripping down my chin after a tangy-sweet bite. They remind me that yet another year has gone by, that four seasons have passed since the last time I enjoyed the taste of them; and in a way, they also remind me of how quickly time goes by, as well. Fleshy and floral, they’re at their loveliest in the warm summer, begging to be used in salsas, salads, cool drinks and chutneys, and combined in unique new ways with savory, warmly spiced chops hot off of the summer grill. Truly seasonal eating at its best and freshest.
The bounty of summer inspires with all of its colors, flavors and scents; and the fruit of the sun’s labor in the previous months is finally on display for all to see and taste. It’s the grill’s time to take on some of the workload, and for the fresh, vibrant produce of the season to bask in the glow of the dinner table’s spotlight. I’m yielding to the gentle coaxing of summer, and curiously allowing it to take me where it may.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Grilled Pork Chops with Summer Peach Chutney and Toasted Pecan Rice
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(Serves about 6)
1 ½ – 1 ¾ pound boneless pork loin
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon, divided use
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon salt, plus a pinch, divided use
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
• Pinch ground cinnamon
3 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
2 tablespoons limejuice, plus 1 tablespoon, divided use
4 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, chopped, divided use
• Peach Chutney (recipe below)
• Toasted Pecan Rice (recipe below)
-Trim any excess fat off of the pork loin, and cut the loin into 6, ¾” – 1” thick chops; pound out with a meat mallet to tenderize, and add to a large platter or zip lock bag to marinate by adding the 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil, the paprika, the ½ teaspoon salt, the black pepper, the cumin, the cinnamon, the garlic and the 2 tablespoons limejuice; marinate for at least 30 minutes; in the meantime, the Summer Peach Chutney and Toasted Pecan Rice can be prepared.
-To make a cilantro-oil garnish for the grilled pork chops, combine 2 tablespoons of the chopped cilantro leaves with the 1 tablespoon of limejuice and 1 tablespoon of olive oil plus pinch of salt; combine with a fork and set aside to drizzle over the grilled pork chops.
-To grill the pork chops, heat your outdoor grill or indoor grill pan; once hot, add the chops and grill for roughly 6-8 minutes per side, or until golden brown and cooked through. (Be careful not to overcook your pork, or it will become tough.)
-Serve with the Toasted Pecan Rice and the Summer Peach Chutney on the side, and drizzle the cilantro-oil over the chops as garnish.
Summer Peach Chutney ingredients:
2 tablespoons butter
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon garam masala (or ground allspice)
• Pinch paprika
3 fresh peaches, skin peeled, pitted and cut into small dice
½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar
• Pinch salt
1 tablespoon honey
-Place a medium non-stick skillet over medium-low heat, and add the butter; once butter is melted, add the cinnamon, the garam masala (or allspice) and the paprika, and cook the spices in the butter very briefly, for about 15 seconds; add the diced peaches, raise heat to medium, and cook the mixture for about 10-12 minutes or until the peaches become soft and begin to break down; once peaches are soft and start to break down, add the apple cider vinegar and allow to reduce for about 30 seconds; turn the heat off and add the pinch of salt, and stir in the honey; set aside and keep warm to serve with the pork chops.
Toasted Pecan Rice ingredients:
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 ½ cup Jasmine rice
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 ¼ cups water
½ cup toasted, chopped pecans
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
-Place a medium size non-stick pot over medium-high heat, and add the canola oil; once oil is hot, add the Jasmine rice and toast in the oil for about 1-2 minutes; once rice has toasted, add the salt and pepper and then add the water, and stir to combine; allow the rice to come to the boil, then cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low; cook the rice for about 18-20 minutes, or until tender; remove from heat, allow to sit for about 5 minutes, and then fluff with a fork; set aside and keep warm until ready to serve with the pork chops.