After I came back from my winter break, I found that I had about ten or so oranges laying around. I peeled and stored most of them away in the fridge, but I had a couple left over that I planned to make something out of. I had never really cooked with oranges before, so I figured it was a good time to test out ways to use our favorite citrus.
Now, I know that orange-glazed pork chops are one of the most common dishes out there, which is partly why I decided to give it a go. How bad could it turn out, given that half the world knows how to cook up some variation of this dish? In fact, I put together what I felt to be a decent dish, though next time I know how to better prep and time it. The chops turned out nice and moist with a slightly pinkish center and a great, slightly crisp outside. The orange juice definitely lifted the pork to a whole new level, though next time I’ll add it a bit earlier to let it glazed the pork even more. The citrus also helps to cut through the oil and heaviness that sometimes can bring down a dish.
I only remembered to take a picture after getting through the first few cuts:
So what’s behind the makings of a great orange-glazed pork chop?
First off, a quality piece of pork (preferably bone-in so the meat doesn’t dry out when cooking) will go a long way. You want to get something that has a little bit of fat marbling but not too much. Also, the cut should be slightly thick but not so monstrous that it takes a grill to really get it done, though that would be a great summer barbecue idea …
Next, you want to get a nice, sweet orange. It’s alright if you can only find one that is slightly tangy, as that sourness will dissipate when the natural sugars in the juice will concentrate in the pan (also known as reducing a liquid). To get the maximum juice out of your orange, press down and roll it around on the counter or cutting board before you slice it in half. This tenderizes the pulp and gets you the most bang for your buck.
Lastly, you’ll need to find something nice to accompany your orange-glazed pork. Now, pork is a robust meat (as compared to chicken or even some cuts of beef), so most people prefer a hearty side dish such as potatoes or broccoli. I went with a lighter accompaniment of leeks and tomatoes in a white-wine reduction. The leeks were a good way to get that onion-y flavor that typically gets cooked into pork dishes, while the tomatoes gave it a base to work off of. Now, you could probably add some potatoes in there for a starch, but I didn’t have any on hand.
All in all, orange-glazed pork chops are an easy dish to do on a weeknight and gives you some great results. Go try it out.