Food should definitely taste good, but its presentation is just as important for the overall effect of a meal. Sloppy plating, incompatible plate-food coloration, or thoughtless placement can easily turn what could be a whimsical-looking, delicious meal into a ho-hum weekday dinner. With just a bit of creativity, we can transform the mundane into the near miraculous.
And that’s exactly what we’ve done here. The lean pork loin chop has been perfectly seasoned with coarse salt and fresh cracked black pepper and grilled until medium rare. This becomes the “peach” in our melba, but we don’t stop there. Perfectly shaped and perched atop the chop is a velvety smooth scoop of buttermilk mashed potatoes. They resemble the ice cream in this dish. And of course, it’s topped with fresh raspberries. The meal is rounded out with a tangy-spicy sauce, fresh snipped chives and toasted slivered almonds. All that remains is an appetite.
The pork loin chop is the easiest part of this dish to get wrong. From underseasoning to overcooking and everything in between, it’s imperative to get this right. It’s also important to have everything ready at the same time so nothing ends up cold or lukewarm on the plate. This means that preparation is vitally important since the entire meal will take just about 30 minutes to put together. Start the potatoes first, but after that, you’re on the clock. Preheating the grill takes a bit of time, but lucky for us, we can get that going as soon as the potatoes are over heat; there’s no lag time where you might forget just how long it takes your grill to heat up.
After the grill is started, you need to the prepare the sauce and toast the slivered almonds. Once those are done, we can prep the chops by removing most of the excess fat, but not all of it and seasoning them. The chops can then sit out on the counter to warm to room temp before they go on the grill. One-inch thick chops will cook to medium rare with 5 minutes on the first side and 3-4 minutes on the second side with the grill set to medium. For medium, cook for 5 minutes on the second side. Just make sure to preheat the grill on high, turning it down to medium once the pork chops are down. They will also do with a slight rest after they come off the grill.
Once the chops are on the grill, you can start heating the sauce, it just requires a few minutes of simmering to completely melt the preserves to combine with the vinegar and dijon mustard. You’ll have time to mash the potatoes while the chops rest for a few minutes before plating.
This eye-catching meal will have your family or guests doing a doubletake when dinner is served and asking for seconds.
Peach Melba Pork Chops with Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
For the potatoes
- 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt, in the boiling water
- 4 tablespoons butter
- ½-1 cup of buttermilk
- salt and pepper to taste
For the pork
- 4, 1-inch thick pork loin chops, trimmed of excess fat
- fresh ground black pepper
- coarse ground salt
For the sauce
- ½ cup peach or apricot preserves
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
For the topping
- ½ cup toasted slivered almonds
- fresh raspberries
- fresh snipped chives
Start the mashed potatoes first. Preheat the grill on high. Season the pork chops liberally with coarse ground salt and fresh cracked black pepper and set aside to come to room temp. Combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a small saucepan and set over medium low heat. Toast the almonds in a dry, non-stick pan over medium heat, stirring frequently until they begin to brown and become fragrant. Do not allow these to burn.
Once the grill is hot, turn the heat to medium and grill the chops until desired doneness. Grill for 5 minutes on the first side, and then 3-4 for medium rare and 5 for medium. Do not cook past medium. Remove the chops from the grill and set each on its plate. Let the chops rest while you finish the potatoes.
When the potatoes are tender, drain them and return them to the dry pan. Add the butter and allow it to melt. Add the seasoning and mash the potatoes with a hand masher. Add in enough buttermilk to reach the consistency you desire. Using a #20 disher, scoop the mashed potatoes on top of the chop. Add the fresh raspberries and spoon the sauce over all. Garnish with chives and almonds.