Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cinnamon-Spice and Everything Nice

When I peeked into my Fooducopia basket of "what to use next" and saw the bottle of cinnamon from Keres Spices, my first though was "Cinnamon Rolls!!!" That was quickly followed by "Apple PIE!!!" and then "Cinnamon Bread.!.!.!.!"

And then I took a breath and realized that all of those were way too ... expected. When I start with an ingredient that I want to feature in a recipe I'm creating, I like to find more interesting - and possibly unexpected - uses.

Sure, I could have made a nectarine pie with cinnamon, or I could have made apple-cinnamon sweet rolls, but I decided to skip the sweet and go savory instead. Yes, savory. Cinnamon is one of those spices that works in both sweet and savory dishes. Trust me.

And while we're talking about cinnamon, did you know there are two completely different spices sold as cinnamon? One is actually cassia, and then there's true cinnamon. Most bottles of cinnamon don't specify. Which is fine. Unless you're a spice nut, you can use them interchangeably, anyway. Just make sure you cinnamon (like any spice) is fresh. If it smells like vaguely cinnamony sawdust, it's time for a new bottle.

This recipe starts with a spice mix and I used it to cook some pork ... but this mix can be used on other things as well. Try a sprinkle on squash when you roast it!

Spiced Pork

1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 tablespoon sugar
2 pork chops
Flour, for dredging
Olive oil, for cooking

Combine the salt, allspice, cinnamon, chili powder, and sugar in a small bowl.

About 1/2 hour before you want to cook, take the pork out of the refrigerator and let it rest at room temperature.

Coat the pork chops generously with the spice mixture. Let them sit for a few minutes, and you'll see that coating will look damp instead of dry.

Meanwhile, put a skillet on medium-high heat and add about a tablespoon of oil. Heat the oil until it's not, but not smoking.

Coat the chops lightly with the flour, and shake off the excess. Place them in your heated pan and cook until nicely browned on one side, then flip and cook on the other. Continue cooking until the chops are cooked all the way through, but not overcooked and dry - cooking time will vary depending on how thick the chops are, and how hot you're cooking them. I had fairly thin chops and they were done at about the same time both sides were browned. If you have thick chops, consider finishing them in the oven to keep from over-browning the coating.

Let the chops rest for about 10 minutes before you slice or serve.

I served this with roasted acorn squash and a salad of fresh corn, roasted red pepper, zucchini, capers, and tomatoes.

2 comments:

Tupper Cooks! said...

Genius!

Anonymous said...

What a perfect plate! Heck yes! Cinnamon goes well with pork and (smart/serious) BBQ'rs us a good bot of it. We do a goot bit of "Q" during the season, so spices stay fresh. I did NOT know that there are two, unrelated types, just some discussion about country of origin. Will have to investigate a bit. Great recipe and post, so one more on the list. Thanks. -Craig

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