Molasses-Cured Pork Loin with Smoked Walnut & Cremini Salsa

Recipe courtesy of Chef Monica Pope, t’afia, Houston


Yield: 24 servings



Smoked Walnut & Cremini Salsa

16 dried smoked ancho chiles

14 ounces walnut halves

½ cup butter

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 ½ pounds large cremini mushrooms, cut in half and sliced

1 ½ pounds julienned red onions (about 4 large)

½ cup minced garlic

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup kosher salt

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

¼ cup snipped fresh chives

Butternut Squash & Onions

10 pounds peeled butternut squash, cut in ½-inch dice

½ cup oil or bacon fat

1 ½ pounds chopped yellow onions (about 3 large)

4 teaspoons fresh thyme

1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

3 tablespoons fresh orange zest

Molasses-Cured Pork Loin Chops

6 cups water

¼ cup molasses

¼ cup honey

1 ⅓  teaspoons minced ginger

1 ⅓ teaspoons paprika

2  cloves garlic, smashed

¼ cup kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

½  stick Cinnamon

2 whole cloves

24 pork loin chops


To make the Smoked Walnut & Cremini Salsa:

Reconstitute the chiles in a sauce pot of boiling water (about ½ cup per chile). Simmer the water until reduced by half.

Save the water and remove the chiles. Scrape the meat from the skin of the chiles and finely chop the meat.

In a skillet, toast the walnuts until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.  Chop the toasted walnuts.

Melt the butter and oil in a rondeau and sauté the sliced mushrooms until browned. Add the red onions and minced garlic and sauté until the garlic browns. Deglaze the pan with the reserved chile water (about 6 cups). Add the sugar, salt, and vinegar to the pan. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool.

Toss the mixture with the chopped walnuts and snipped chives. Makes about 12 cups.

To make the Butternut Squash & Onions:

In a sauté pan, working in batches, cook the squash in oil or bacon fat until just beginning to soften.

Add the chopped onions and thyme to the pan and sauté until the onions are translucent but the squash is still firm.

Deglaze the pan with the orange juice. Add the orange zest and reserve. Makes about 24 cups.

To make the Molasses-Cured Pork Loin Chops:

In a sauce pot, combine the water, molasses, honey, ginger, paprika, garlic, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and cloves. Bring the mixture to a boil.

Cool the mixture and then submerge the pork chops. Refrigerate the pork chops in the mixture for 6 hours.

For each serving, to order:

Bring the pork chops back to room temperature. Grill each chop for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until medium-rare.

Meanwhile, re-warm 1 cup of the squash mixture with a little water or stock.

Serve each pork chop topped with ½ cup of the salsa and a side of the squash and onions.


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