This dish was used as part of a 1 night “restaurant” held out of our apartment as part of the Foodbuzz 24,24,24 launch event.
Kuromitsu and Kinako are commonly used in Japanese desserts. You'll often find rice cake (mochi) desserts rolled in the sawdust-colored kinako powder and kuromitsu is commonly used in kanten (Japanese jello) desserts. They're even used together in Kuzumochi which is a dessert made from kudzu starch and topped with kuromitsu and kinako.
Literally translated as "black honey", kuromitsu is a dark syrup similar to molasses made from raw sugar. Kinako on the other hand is a fine tan powder that's made from ground toasted soy beans and has a nutty earthy flavour.
In this dish, the sauce and powder bring out the deep flavours of the pork while covering the unpleasant undertones. The sugar in the brine creates a nice brown crust on the meat while the inside remains tender and moist. Because I couldn't actually find kuromitsu here I improvised with a mix of brown sugar and molasses. Unfortunately there isn't really a substitute for kinako powder, but there are a couple online shops selling it if you do a search on Google.
As many of you know, the ethos of this blog is about not cooking from recipes, but I find that some cookbooks make for a good source of inspiration while others are a great reference for technique. I learned this technique for cooking perfect pork chops from The Best Recipe cookbook. The key is to pan sear the chops, transfer them to a hot oven, then remove them before they hit the desired temperature, allowing them to finish cooking while they "rest".
Lastly if you're making this in multiple batches for a large group, I'd suggest making the sauce ahead of time using a few teaspoons of demi-glace instead of making the pan sauce on the spot.
For the pan sauce
- About 6 hours before you're ready to cook the pork, put the sugar, salt, and spices in a heavy duty ziplock bag then add 1 cup of hot water. Seal the bag and shake the bag to dissolve the sugar and salt. Add the cold water then add the pork chops. Seal the bag trying to squeeze out as much air as you can (so the chops are completely submerged). Refrigerate until you're ready to cook them.
- About 10-15 minutes before you're ready to cook the chops, remove the pork chops from the brine and dry each one with paper towels. Allow them to come to room temperature to ensure even cooking. Place a pan in the oven on the upper middle shelf and pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.
- When the oven is heated and the chops are at room temperature, heat a cast iron pan or other heavy bottomed pan over medium high heat until very hot. Add a splash of oil, swirl to coat, then carefully place the pork chops in the pan. Leave them undisturbed for about 2 minutes or until a nice brown crust has formed. Flip and cook until browned on the second side.
- Transfer the pork chops to the oven and cook until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chop (near the bone) reads 127 degrees F, about 5-8 minutes. Remove the chops from the oven, place on a plate and cover with foil. Allow the pork to rest for 5-10 minutes or until an instant read thermometer reads 147 degrees F. You should know that the USDA recommends that pork is cooked to 160 degrees to be "safe". Unfortunately, at that temperature, you'll end up with hockey pucks, so proceed at your own discretion.
- While the chops are in the oven, deglaze the hot pan you used to sear the pork in with red wine, scrapping all the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the molasses and brown sugar and cook down until it's thick and syrupy. Salt and pepper to taste.
- To serve, just plate the pork chops and drizzle the sauce on top. Make a pile of kinako powder next to the pork chops to dip the pork in.