I seem to have an massive, endless pantry, not that the actual dimensions of the kitchen closet are even that impressive, but I seem to have a knack for utilizing every single itty bitty breathable space in there…my friends can all attest to that…they don’t dare open the pantry door by themselves. And when I go into the pantry, they instinctively back away 3 feet in case the tower of foodstuffs come tumbling down.
I love buying food. It bugs me to no end not having an ingredient when I’m in spontaneous recipe creation mode.
Hello, my name is Jaden and I’m a pantry-hoard-and-binger.
Once I reach my comfort level of too much food in pantry, out comes the large boxes for donation for the good stuff, garbage bags for the expired stuff and a small bin for the precious stuff.
Sometimes I do this at midnight in my pajamas with fierce determination and don’t re-emerge until early morning.
Yes, I know. I have issues.
During the last binge episode, I found an unopened jar of dried apricots, which I bought a few months ago for a recipe that I don’t remember. Obviously, I didn’t make it. After checking its lifespan, I was good to go and paired it with pork chops, ground ginger, ground cumin and lots of brandy.
Brandy and apricots? I’ll take this pair along with me in any dish, anytime. Together forever.
Also, below the recipe is information about Cumin from McCormick Chief Spice Buyer, Al Geotze. In the next couple of weeks, watch out for the SPICIEST giveaway that I’ll be hosting – I want to replace someone’s spice cabinet. The ENTIRE spice cabinet with 48 of McCormick Gourmet spices. Enough spices to give pork chops wet dreams. Coming soon.
The apricots take a nice little bath in brandy (or your booze of choice: cognac, white wine) and the pork chops are gently scored on one side. The scoring prevents the chops from curling up when you cook them.
Ground ginger, ground cumin, salt and pepper are mixed together and then sprinkled on the pork chops on both sides.
In a large frying pan (I like my large cast iron pan) – sear the pork chops both sides, and remove them when they are almost, but not quite cooked through. We’ll finish cooking them in separate step. Careful not to use too high of heat – you want a good sear, but you can do this on medium-high heat.
To the pan, add the onions and let them cook until they start to soften. Then add the apricots only (reserve the booze) and let the apricots caramelize a bit.
Booze time! Add the brandy and let the whole thing simmer for just a bit.
Next add the chicken stock and HEY, WHERE’S MY LAST PHOTO?! uh…errr….snuggle all of the pork chops back in the pan, cover and let cook until pork chops are cooked through. yeah. that’s it (nice Photoshop job, eh!?) Oh one more thing – don’t overcook the chops. Barely blush-pink on the inside is perfect.
Prep Time: 10
Cook Time: 20
The pork chops are lightly scored on one side to prevent them from curling during cooking (helps with even cooking, plus it looks prettier than curled up chops). For a non-booze version of this recipe, use apple juice instead.
1. Soak the apricots in brandy in a small bowl. Combine the cumin, ginger salt and pepper. Lightly score pork chops on one side with sharp knife.. Rub evenly on both sides of pork chops.
2. Heat oil in a large skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat. Add pork chops, cook 3 minutes each side until browned and mostly cooked all the way through. Remove pork chops to plate (we'll finish cooking the chops in later step).
3. Return skillet to medium-low heat and add the butter and onions. Gently saute onions for 5 minutes. Make sure they do not burn. Add the dried apricots (try not to add the brandy just yet) and saute another minute. Turn heat to medium-high and pour in the brandy that the apricots were soaked in. Let simmer for 1 minute.
4. Pour in chicken broth. Return the pork chops back into the pan, snuggling them in the sauce. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes until the inside of pork chop is barely blush-pink.
From McCormick Spice Field Report by Al Goetze, McCormick Gourmet Chief Spice Buyer
What is it about cumin that makes this spice so unique? Its very distinctive flavor is described as slightly bitter and warm, with strong, earthy notes. A quick whiff of cumin and you instantly know its identity. But, did you know that cumin is among the top 10 selling spices in the U.S?
That’s not so surprising if you think about how important cumin is to some of our favorite flavors, like taco seasoning, chili powder and other Mexican and Southwest-inspired dishes. Cumin is also an essential ingredient in virtually every global cuisine, particularly the more trendy foods of North Africa, India and the Middle East.
Cumin seed has an extensive history and the foods that it is used to flavor today actually traces its fascinating past. Earliest records of cumin date back more than 4,000 years to its farming in the Nile River Valley and cultivation by the Egyptians. From there the seeds were bartered through overland camel trading routes crossing Northern Africa to the west and Asia to the east. As trade expanded, cumin was carried north into Europe via Morocco and Venice.
Cumin reached the New World, with the arrival of the Spaniards in Mexico. Each stop along the way, the local population became intrigued with cumin’s flavor, and found ways to incorporate the spice into their dishes.
These photos were taken by Al Goetze on a trip to northwest India to the states, Gujarat and Rajasthan to see cumin production first hand.
Cumin grows in the mild winter months, as the moisture and cool temperatures are ideal. The harvest takes place from March to May. It is critical that the weather becomes dry at harvest time. Hard rains can cause seeds to fall to the ground or turn black in color, resulting in a lower quality crop.
Cuminum cyminum is a delicate-looking annual, with slender, branched stems. It is a small, fast growing plant seldom reaching higher than three feet. Tiny white flowers will yield cumin seeds, which range in color from pale brown to khaki.
Cumin seeds are similar in appearance to caraway seeds, averaging about ¼ inch in length. It grows in temperate climates and is harvested just four months after planting. It’s amazing that such an unassuming plant produces a seed so packed with flavor and aroma.
The farmers manually harvest the seeds by pulling the whole plant out of the ground and thrashing the seeds off of the plant onto a cover. Then, they are sun-dried and hand-sifted over a screen to separate out stems and twigs.
Most seeds are taken to a small town called Unjha which has a famous open air market, where merchants sell small lots of several hundred pounds of cumin seeds, one lot at a time. Even in the spring months here, the weather can get very warm, so the market closes for two hours mid-day.
This is me and Al – I took a trip to McCormick HQ in Maryland earlier this year to meet him and get schooled on spice!
I’m part of McCormick Gourmet team of bloggers developing recipes featuring their spices and I also on the chef panel to develop McCormick 2011 Flavor Forecast prediecting upcoming flavor trends.
Apricot Glazed Pork Chops – Our Life in the Kitchen
Apricot Curry Glazed Pork Chops – Cooking by the Seat of My Pants
Pan-Fried and Roasted Pork Chops with Apricot-Dijon Sauce – Kalyn’s Kitchen
Pork Chops with Apricot-Brandy Glaze – Fancy Toast
Grilled Pork Chops with Apricot Onion – Rookie Cookie