We are well into persimmon season and I am LOVING it. I have come to appreciate fruit a lot more in college because of how hard it is to come by. The dining commons have a limited selection of fruit (usually under ripe and not in season) only during breakfast, and packaged fruits at stores on campus are so expensive. On top of that, keeping fresh fruit in the dorm is tricky because good fruit ripens and spoils easily and leaves a subtle musky/warm bag smell in my dorm if not eaten right away. Persimmons, however, are the perfect fruit to keep in the dorm. They remain crunchy a fresh for around a week, they don’t need to be refrigerated, and they are so versatile! I eat a persimmon with breakfast most mornings and will occasionally make a salad with them for lunch. In this recipe, I decided to take these persimmons to a whole new level and caramelize them with onions alongside a pork chop. As always, I went out of my way to go to Whole Foods and buy an individual pork chop, because I would rather spend a little extra money on one piece of meat that I will actually use than technically spend less on many pork chops that will inevitably go to waste. With that being said, I was surprised by how inexpensive the pork chop was! It was less than $5 and lasted two full meals for me. The only other ingredients I bought were some fresh rosemary, a persimmon from the farmers market, and 2 cloves of garlic (yes I bought specifically 2 cloves, the people at Whole Foods were confused). The onions, butter, orange, and cous cous salad (pictured below) were taken from my dining commons earlier that day.
This was my first time cooking pork chops, which was really exciting, so I did a lot of research on the subject beforehand. I probably spent more time reading pork chop recipes and watching videos on how to cook pork chops than I did actually cooking the meal. I am really happy with how it turned out! Some videos/recipes seemed to over complicate the process and recommended brining the meat for hours before cooking or doing various, time-consuming tasks beforehand. I considered following their advice, but I was hungry so I decided to take my chances without the brine and just constantly basted the pork chops with the butter in the pan and made sure not to over cook the meat in order to maintain it’s juiciness. The pork chop ended up being amazing, buttery, and not even the slightest bit tough. They paired really well along side the persimmons and onions and left a good helping of leftovers for the next day.
While I was preparing the persimmons and onions, I ran into one of our hall’s cleaning ladies. She was so curious about how I was going to use the persimmons with the onions and meat, and we ended up talking for a good ten minutes about cooking, using fruits in savory dishes, what it’s like to cook in this small kitchen, etc. I have come to really love the communal kitchen and the fact that it is connected to the common room, for every time I cook, I have a new food-related conversation with someone. Especially in the first few weeks, I met so many people while cooking who took time out of their day to talk with me about food, life, and the art of ingredient hunting in the dining commons. We are over a month into school so meeting new people has slowed, but I now have an abundance of taste testers and people I can rant to about my next food adventures. I know that college is supposed to be about change and growth, but I am glad that my joy of cooking has remained a constant so far.
This has been a long ramble about pork and cooking, but moral of the story; cook if you can, cooking is cool, and try out these pork chops because they were damn good.
- 1 Pork chop (~1 in. thickness, bone in)
- 1/2 Red onion
- 1/2 Firm persimmon
- 2 Cloves garlic
- 2 Sprigs rosemary
- 1 Small orange
- Olive Oil
- Cayenne pepper
- Red chili flakes
- Salt & Pepper
- In a small skillet, heat 1/2 Tbs each olive oil and butter. Julienne onion and chop persimmon into slices of similar size. Sauté onions until translucent. Add persimmons and cook until onions are caramelized and persimmons are softened. Season with salt and pepper and chili flakes (optional). Remove from pan and set aside.
- Wipe down excess grease from the pan, and add ~1Tbs olive oil and butter to the pan. Let pan pre-heat over medium heat. Meanwhile, prepare pork chop by pounding it with your fist a few times, then season generously with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Add pork chop to hot pan along with crushed garlic cloves, rosemary, and two pieces of orange rind.
- Cook for ~3-4 minutes per side, constantly basting with melted butter/oil in pan while cooking to distribute heat evenly. Add small slices of butter as needed when the pan looks dry/ when there isn’t enough butter to baste the meat. Pork chop should be opaque and firm when done.
- Turn off heat and squeeze ~2Tbs fresh orange juice on top of the pork chop in pan. Let rest for a few minutes.
- Plate: Place the pork chop on the bed of caramelized onions and persimmons.