Umbria is famous for it’s pork, and when we are in residence there, we do indeed seem to enjoy a fair number of pork dishes. This dish combines a lovely pork chop with the very addictive spicy pork/chile spread from Calabria called Nduja. My husband’s roots are Calabrian and we both love spice in our food. When we stumbled across nduja for the first time at a multi regional market in Umbria we both fell in love with the taste. Nduja can be found sold fresh, stuffed in a sausage casing and sold like a large sausage which you open and scoop out or use to spread on anything you desire, or more commonly in small jars which is what we used in this recipe. Although it is illegal to import meat products into the US, there are a few US companies that now make their own nduja, including Boccalone.
The inspiration for this recipe came from two different sources. The first is Epicurious.com which has a lovely recipe for Pork Blade Steaks with nduja and honey that is served with an arugula salad, and my second source of inspiration was a dish I have enjoyed a number of times in Umbria that involves serving grilled pork chops topped with chopped radicchio salad dressed with balsamic vinegar. I love both dishes and one day when I had bought lovely pork chops at our local butcher and was looking for preparation ideas, I decided to brine the chops, grill them, then top them with the nduja and honey as directed in the Epicurious.com recipe. Brining is simply soaking meat in a sugar/salt/water mixture before cooking which maximizes the moisture and tenderness of the meat. To serve my version of this pork dish, I gently sauteed some thinly sliced radicchio and served it along with the chops. Now, I do apologize for the photo as for some reason I found this a difficult dish to get a decent image of. I’ve actually made a variation of this dish a number of times already but was never happy enough with the photo to post the recipe. To serve this dish, I actually place the radicchio on top of the pork chop as they are meant to be eaten together but show them side by side in my photo so you can better see how delicious that pork chop looks. The combination of spicy meat spread, sweet honey, and bitter radicchio along with tender moist, pork is truly very highly addictive!
Deborah Mele 2011
- 4 Meaty Pork Chops (About 3/4 to 1 Inch Thick)
- 3 Cups Water
- 6 Tablespoons Coarse Kosher Salt
- 3 Tablespoons Sugar
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- 4 Ounces Nduja (soft, spicy salami)
- 2 Tablespoons Honey
- 1 Small to Medium Round Head Radicchio Lettuce, Cored And Cut Into Thin Slices
- 1 Tablespoon Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- Combine the 3 cups water, Kosher salt, and sugar in 15 x 10 x 2-inch glass baking dish, and stir until salt and sugar dissolve.
- Place pork chops in the brine in the baking dish.
- Cover and chill at least 2 hours and up to 4 hours.
- Once brined, remove from the liquid and pat the chops dry with paper towels.
- Rub with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Heat up your grill to it's highest temperature as you would cook a steak.
- Grill the chop on each side for about 3-4 minutes and then flip as needed until they reach the internal temperature of 150-155 degrees.
- Thicker chops will take longer and may need to be flipped more than twice in order to keep them from becoming charred.
- Once the chops have been turned for the last time, spread each on one side with some of the nduja, and keep on the grill another minute or two until it melts.
- Spread it evenly across the top of the chop with a knife.
- Remove from the heat to a warmed platter, drizzle 1/2 teaspoon of the honey over each chop, and cover.
- In a large pan, heat the oil and toss in the radicchio.
- Cook for 4 to 5 minutes or just until the radicchio begins to soften.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve the chops with the radicchio on the side or on top of the chops.