MOMBACHO CAFÉ PORK CHOPS

By Trent Blodgett

While in Nicaragua, my obsession with street food was in overdrive, as street vendors with smoky barbecues and juicy meats seemed to be everywhere we turned. Mombacho Café was created with pork in mind and is inspired by delicious grilled pork that became our daily staple as we walked through quaint town squares, taking in the beautiful sights and smells. The combination of garlic, cumin and coffee give this blend its unique flavor profile. Using a cast iron pan is recommended, assuming you’ll be in the kitchen, but is just as amazing if you cook your pork over coals and baste it with honey butter. Depending on the season, these pork chops go well with any type of side. This version is created with California springtime in mind, with pea puree, asparagus and crispy shallots to add to the texture and bright flavors.

Serves 2–4

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes (includes time for resting the meat)

EQUIPMENT

Wide, shallow cast iron sauté pan or other oven-proof,heavy bottomed skillet

Kitchen tongs

TIPS/THINGS TO REMEMBER

  • Seasoning chops the day before ensures the salt is absorbed into the center of the chop rather than just the outside
  • The spices will not be absorbed into the center of the meat, but will penetrate the outer layer which will not only give the chop more flavor, but will keep the spices from burning when you sear
  • Patting off the excess moisture helps to caramelize the surface of the pork
  • Be careful not to overheat the pan, as this will burn the spices
  • Resting the meat allows the protein fibers to relax and retain the succulent juices

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 bone-in pork chops, 1–1.5" thick
  • 2 tsp Mombacho Café — enough to coat the pork evenly
  • Kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil

SPICED HONEY COMPOUND BUTTER

  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp of Mombacho Café

STEPS

  1. Season pork generously with kosher salt and Mombacho Café.
  2. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  4. For the compound butter, soften butter at room temperature or microwave for 10 seconds.
  5. Mix with vinegar, Mombacho Café and honey; set aside.
  6. Heat skillet with oil to medium high heat.
  7. Pat off excess moisture and press chops into pan for even cooking. Sear for 2–3 minutes on one side.
  8. Flip and oven bake for 5 minutes.
  9. Return chops to stovetop over low heat, add compound butter and baste for 2 minutes.
  10. Remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes, uncovered.
  11. Serve over pea purée with asparagus; sprinkle the top with crispy shallots.

PEA PUREE

The perfect bright Spring flavor, the essence of the peas really shines through and provides a great backdrop for any type of protein.

Serves 2–4

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

EQUIPMENT

Medium saucepan

Wooden spoon

Food processor or blender

TIPS/THINGS TO REMEMBER

  • A heavy bottomed saucepan works well for this recipe to prevent the butter from overheating and burning
  • This dish can be prepared while the pork chops are cooking and resting

INGREDIENTS

  • ¼ cup minced shallots — about 2 medium size
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 10 oz frozen peas
  • 1 Tbsp of butter
  • ⅓ cup chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp milk
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp of lemon juice
  • Pinch of kosher salt

STEPS

  1. Sauté shallots and garlic in butter over medium low heat for 5 minutes until light brown and slightly caramelized.
  2. Add frozen peas and cook for 2–3 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken stock and bring up to a simmer.
  4. Remove from heat and add the milk and parmesan cheese and stir well.
  5. While hot, put into blender or food processor and puree. Add lemon zest, lemon juice and salt to taste, blend again.
  6. Return to pan and heat through, serve immediately.

BLANCHED ASPARAGUS

Blanching is a process that quickly cooks and cools vegetables to retain their bright color and texture. The lower stems of mature asparagus will likely have a tougher outer bark. A vegetable peeler works quite well to trim the bark away from the tender center.

Serves: 2–4

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 3 minutes

EQUIPMENT

3 quart saucepan

Tongs or a slotted spoon

Bowl of ice water

Colander

TIPS/THINGS TO REMEMBER

  • For best results, don’t overcrowd your pot, as this will reduce the temperature of your water; instead, cook in batches
  • Have a bowl of ice water nearby to instantly stop the cooking process
  • For more mature asparagus, use a vegetable peeler to trim the bark
  • Slicing on the bias (on an angle) helps retain the long slender appearance of the vegetable

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus, washed and trimmed
  • 6 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 quart ice water

STEPS

  1. Bring salted water to a rapid boil.
  2. Add asparagus, cook for 3 minutes.
  3. Carefully remove with tongs or a slotted spoon.
  4. Immediately submerge in ice water to stop the cooking process.
  5. Remove from ice water into colander to drain excess water.
  6. Slice on the bias into 2 inch sections.
  7. Reheat immediately before serving by steaming or sautéing for one minute (or putting into microwave for 20 seconds).

CRISPY SHALLOTS

These shallots add a nice flavor and crunch. I make a large batch and save them in an airtight container to sprinkle on practically everything!

Serves 2–4

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

EQUIPMENT

Heavy bottomed large saucepan for frying

Slotted metal spoon or fine meshed spider

Paper towels over a sheet pan or large plate

Fine meshed sieve for straining oil after you’re done

TIPS/THINGS TO REMEMBER

  • Slice thinly or use a mandolin with a guard to get even thin slices
  • Start with room temperature oil, cooking the shallots slowly while the temperature comes up to medium
  • Cooking longer at medium heat ensures even cooking without burning
  • The shallots will continue to cook even after you pull them out of the oi
  • Strain the oil and use for dipping bread or drizzling over your cooked pork chop. Store remaining oil in an airtight container in a cool cabinet

INGREDIENTS

  • 1–2 cups neutral high temperature oil, such as corn, soybean, peanut or sesame oil
  • 3–5 shallots, peeled and sliced thin
  • Salt

STEPS

  1. Slice shallots thinly.
  2. Add oil to large saucepan and add shallots; turn on heat to medium.
  3. Stir frequently as the shallots cook, they will turn from translucent to light brown — about 15 minutes.
  4. Use a slotted spoon or spider to pull them out of the oil and spread onto paper towels.
  5. Sprinkle with salt.
  6. After they cool, use immediately or store in an airtight container.
  7. After the oil cools, strain it through a fine meshed strainer for future use.

MOMBACHO CAFÉ PORK CHOPS was originally published in Spice Tribe on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.