Mastering a restaurant-quality seared chop

Katie Workman
Associated Press

Sometimes restaurant meals really stun you. You experience a dish so amazing you find yourself saying, “Oh, I could never make that at home.” But then you pause for a moment and think, “Or could I?”

This happened to me recently. I went to Stephan Pyles’ amazing Dallas restaurant Stampede 66, where even for Texas, things are done seriously big and bold. There was a pork chop on the menu, aptly named the “Stampede 66 pork chop,” and after I ate it I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I knew I had to try to recreate it in my kitchen.

In my home version, a super simple and immensely flavorful blend of seasonings is rubbed all over the chops, which then are seared in a skillet while you make a colorful and easy black-eyed pea salad. The finishing touch is a couple of apples sauteed with a bit of butter, brown sugar and brandy. Everything comes together on one beautiful plate and the result is pretty amazing.

Does it look complicated? I promise it’s not. In fact, this whole meal comes together in less than 30 minutes.

Pork Chops with Black-Eyed Peas and Apples

For the pork chops

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

Four 1-inch-thick pork chops (about 3 pounds total)

1 tablespoon olive oil

For the black-eyed pea salad

1 cup diced tomatoes

1/2 cup minced red onion

15 1/2-ounce can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

For the caramelized apples

2 tablespoons butter

2 Granny Smith apples

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons brandy

To prepare the chops, in a small bowl combine the chili powder, paprika, cayenne, brown sugar and salt. Rub the mixture on both sides of the pork chops.

Heat a grill pan or heavy cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Add the olive oil. Sear the pork chops on both sides until nicely browned and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes per side. The middles should still be very slightly pink, with an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Transfer the chops to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Reserve the pan.

While the chops are cooking, make the black-eyed pea salad. In a medium bowl, toss together the tomatoes, onion, black-eyed peas, red wine vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, then set aside.

To make the apples, add the butter to the pan you cooked the pork chops in and set over medium heat to melt. Add the apples and cook for 2 minutes, or until they just start to soften. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the apples and cook, stirring often, for another minute or two, or until you can smell the sugar caramelizing. Add the brandy and bring to a simmer, using a spoon or tongs to scrape the bits off the bottom of the pan.

Serve each chop on a plate with a generous scoop of the black-eyed peas salad. Heap some of the apples on top of the chops. Serves 4.

Per serving: 1,030 calories; 61 g fat (20 g saturated fat; 53 percent calories from fat); 38 g carbohydrates; 18 g sugar; 215 mg cholesterol; 1,270 mg sodium; 78 g protein; 7 g fiber.