A few weeks ago, we stocked our freezer full of pork. A friend and I split a locally raised, pastured pig. I couldn’t have been more excited. We have all sorts of bratwurst, pork roasts, chops, bacon, and more. We’ve really been enjoying the pork bounty. But after a few dinners of pork chops cooked simply, I wanted to change it up a bit.
Enter orange sauce.
I won’t lie – one of my favorite Chinese take-out meals was orange chicken. I realize that the gloppy, heavy, sweet version at most take-out joints isn’t really all that authentic. I loved it nonetheless. Especially when there was a good number of chiles in it to add a little heat. It was sweet, salty, and spicy. What more could one need? I’ve even made it gluten-free in the past.
So when I was looking for a new way to enjoy pork chops, I opted to use that orange sauce and transform them. What resulted was an easy meal that definitely delivered on flavor. Paired with rice, green beans, and some pickled cucumbers, this was an awesome weeknight meal.
Pork Chops with Orange Sauce (gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free)
1/4 c freshly squeezed orange juice (from about half of a large orange)
2 T fresh orange zest
3 T chicken broth
1 T wheat-free tamari or soy sauce
2 t rice wine
1 t rice vinegar
2 t sesame oil
2 T honey
1/4 t black pepper
1 T olive oil or coconut oil
4 dried red chiles
2 t minced fresh garlic
2 t grated fresh ginger
1 t arrowroot powder whisked with 2 t cold water
4 bone-in, thick cut pork chops
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, zest, chicken broth, soy sauce, rice wine, rice vinegar, sesame oil, honey, and pepper. Set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the olive/coconut oil over medium heat. Add the chiles, garlic and ginger. Saute, stirring, for about 20-30 seconds. Pour in the orange juice mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce to low and add the arrowroot slurry and continue to cook for about a minute, or until sauce thickens. Remove from heat and set aside.
Heat a large oven-proof skillet (I prefer a cast iron skillet) to medium-high heat. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. When the skillet is hot, add the pork chops. Allow to brown for about a minute or two, and flip the chops over. Put the pan in the oven and bake the chops until they are cooked through (145 degrees F read on a thermometer poked into the center of the chop), about 5-6 minutes. Remove from the oven.
Brush the sauce over the chops immediately, turning the chops in the pan and brushing both sides. Transfer the chops to a plate and brush more sauce over.
Serve with rice and desired vegetables.