When piquante is less than piquant…
The classic sauce-piquant is based on the making of a fine, well balanced and seasoned Creole sauce, normally as in Shrimp Piquant or the cousin to Shrimp Creole. Piquant in these parts means ‘hot and hurts your tongue’.
Many times the flavored sauce is used with seafood; Crab and Shrimp Sauce Piquant for example, and I know of many recipes formed on the same tomato base made with seafood stock. Only a few uses beef, veal or fowl as enriching the liquid base. What all do have in common is the use of vegetables, always starting with the trinity of onions, celery, bell pepper and layering in aromatic herbs and spices.
In my version, I wanted a rich Creole base with the elements of sauce piquant, but I wanted to make it with pork. Not unheard of I’m sure, but rarely have I seen any variation that I might like or anything that comes to mind as to the outcome in desired taste. The closest was in a Creole cookbook that is the basis for my desire. By using less tomato than say a Shrimp Creole dish, adding beef stock (in this hurried case, consommé) and by adjusting herbs and seasoning to adequate the use of pork, I managed to make one heck of a dish flavorful to my liking and with just enough kick to be called Piquante, which in my mind is not as hot as Piquant.
So what did it taste like? Well, imagine a deep, robust gumbo stock simmered with well seasoned pork cutlets. Delightful, surprising and delicious. Enjoy!
Creole Pork Chop Piquante
4 to 6 servings
3 to 3.5 pounds pork chops, or pork loin cut 1/2″ thick
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon crushed basil
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
6 scallions (green onions), chopped
1/2 cup minced onion
1/2 cup minced green bell pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
4 tablespoons flour
1 -16 oz can Creole tomatoes or a good Italian variety
1/2 teaspoon crushed thyme
1 tablespoon minced parsley
2 bay leaves
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, minced – optional
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 -10.5 oz cans beef consommé
If using pork chops, pound the meat a little to tenderize as close to the bone as possible. Pound pork loin to about quarter-inch thickness and cut into serving sizes.
Mix the cayenne, pepper, salt, paprika and basil together and sprinkle both sides of the pork lightly.
Heat the oil in a wide heavy skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat until hot. Add the pork and brown on both sides. Remove meat and all but 1 tablespoon of the oil; add the butter. When sizzling settles down, add the scallions, onion, bell pepper and celery. Sauté for 5 minutes. Stir in the flour, any remaining seasoning from the pork and cook another 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
Add the tomatoes with juice, thyme, parsley, bay leaves, garlic and jalapeño. Stir in the wine and consommé. Simmer for 15 to 25 minutes until thickened. Adjust seasoning by adding salt as needed. Add the pork nestling into the sauce; reduce heat to low and simmer partially covered for about an hour.
Remove bay leaves; turn off heat and let set covered for 10 minutes before serving. Serve over white rice.
Note: Chicken cutlets would also be very good cooked this way.