I’m two weeks deep into my fully vaccinated life and I’m starting to feel the rush of familiarity. I ate on a patio this past Monday and I just booked my tickets home at long last. The everyday joys of my pre-pandemic life are creeping back in. And bigger ticket items, like travel, are no longer flights of fancy – pun very much intended. So in honor of my approaching return to Nova Scotia, I present this plate inspired by my beloved home province – Molasses Glazed Pork Chops with Fava and Fingerling Hodge-Podge.
It wouldn’t be BBQ season without a chop or two. And while steak may be the “classy” choice, I still have love for the pork chop. Perhaps it’s my imagination but I feel like I see pork chops less and less. And I don’t get it. I see bacon constantly, so the world has not collectively turned its back on pork. But I feel like I’m far more likely to see a flank steak than a couple of pork chops on a grill.
I get that pork is a little bit dicier to cook. You can’t undercook pork and simply call it rare like you can with steak. And pork gets just as tough and dried as steak when it lingers over the heat for too long. So yes, the margin of error is thinner. But on the plus side pork chops are a lot easier on the wallet and if you treat them right they can be just as decadent as a perfectly cooked steak.
But you may be asking, what do pork chops have to do with Nova Scotia? Well, it is true that lobster is generally associated with all things maritime. But NS is also home to our version of Boston Baked Beans. We obviously don’t refer to them as Boston Baked Beans. We call them beans in molasses or pork and beans but the dish is essentially the same. When I was little, a can of beans in molasses and a cut-up hot dog were my idea of a fabulous meal. My Molasses Glazed Pork Chops deploy the same flavors as a pot of beans. But instead of bacon or lardon merely flavoring beans, I left the beans out of the equation and made the pork the main event.
Molasses, all by itself, feels like home to me. Tea biscuits drenched in molasses is the taste of my childhood. Brown bread is a religion where I come from and everyone’s East Coast grandma supposedly makes the best molasses cookies. I don’t know why or how this liquid sweetener made such an impact on our wee peninsula but it sure as sugar did. Oh, and did I mention we like puns?
Now, let’s talk hodge-podge. This is a quintessential Nova Scotian dish. As the name suggests, hodge-podge is made with odds and ends. It’s typically made in the spring and summer with whichever fresh veggies your garden is currently producing. The preparation is simple. The veggies are boiled until tender and then cream and butter are added to the pot and you’re left with a creamy vegetable side. Think of it as an overpopulated creamy vegetable stew. And as I said, you can make hodge-podge with anything but I’ve never met a rendition without some type of potato involved. Potatoes are important to us. Dill too! Dill seems to be a hodge-podge mainstay.
The fava beans on the other hand are not traditional. I just really enjoy them. At this time of year, the market closest to me always has them. The only drawback with fava beans is they can be a little fiddly to prepare. You, of course, have to remove the pod, which is simple enough. But then you have to blanch them and remove their outer skin. This requires a little dexterity and can take some time. If you can get your hands on some frozen peeled fava beans, I would go that route. But I wouldn’t waste your time with dried. They don’t hold their shape well and their texture is different. Save the dried favas for soups, stews, and dips.
So that’s everything you need to know about these Molasses Glazed Pork Chops with Fava and Fingerling Hodge-Podge. This is a simple dish but it makes a huge impact on the plate. And if you have a flair for drama, ask your butcher for Frenched pork chops. It gives the finished meal fine dining vibes.
Molasses Glazed Pork Chops with Fava and Fingerling Hodge-Podge
- BBQ grill or cast-iron skillet or griddle
- large saucepan
Molasses Marinated Pork Chops
- 4 pork rib chops Frenched
- ⅓ cup fancy molasses
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
Fava and Fingerling Hodge-Podge
- 700g (1.5 lbs) fresh fava beans** in their pods
- 454g (1 lb) fingerling potatoes halved
- 4 cups water
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard heaping
- ¼ cup fresh dill coarsely chopped
For the Pork Chops
- Season the pork chops on all sides with kosher salt. Set them aside.
- In a large bowl whisk to combine the molasses, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic, and pepper. Place the pork chops in the bowl and toss to coat. Cover and transfer to the fridge. Let marinate for a minimum of 8 hours or up to 24, rotating the chops once half way through.
- When the chops are ready, take them out of the fridge 20 minutes before starting to heat the grill, griddle, or skillet.
- Heat your grill, griddle, or skillet over high heat until smoking. Place the pork chops on the grill and sear on both sides before lowering the heat. Make sure you have good grill marks or a solid sear before reducing the heat.
- Cook the pork chops for about 5-6 minutes a side depending on the thickness of your chops. The meat should feel firm to the touch with a little give and the interior should only have a hint of pink in the center. Aim for an internal temp of 145-150° F.
- Take the chops off of the heat and tent with foil. Let rest for 10 minutes.
For the Hodge-Podge
- Remove the fava beans from their pods and place them in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring the water to a boil and boil the beans for 1 minute. Drain the fava beans and transfer them to an ice bath. When cool enough to handle, peel the outer skin off of the beans. Discard the skins and set the beans aside.
- Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with the water. Place the pot over high heat and bring the water to a boil. Boil the potatoes for 10 minutes or until fork-tender. Add the fava beans and cook for 2 minutes more. Drain the veg retaining two cups of the cooking liquid and set both aside.
- Return the saucepan to the stove and add the butter. Melt the butter over medium heat before whisking in the flour to make a roux. Slowly stream in the reserved cooking liquid, whisking until smooth after each addition. Once the liquid is fully integrated, whisk in the cream and the mustard. Reduce the heat to low.
- Once steam starts to gather on the surface of the cream mixture, return the veg to the pot and bring them back up to temperature. Once everything is hot, take the hodge-podge off of the stove and keep warm until ready to serve.
- Divide the hodge-podge across four plates. Garnish the hodge-podge with the dill. Arrange a pork chop on top of each portion and serve immediately.