Korean-Italian comfort food: Pork Chops with Kimchi and Cannellini Beans

by Terry B on November 16, 2016

An international ingredient list produces a hearty, one-pan dinner big on flavor and comfort. Recipe below.

Pork Chops with Kimchi and Cannellini

With a headline like that, you’re probably expecting a decent backstory. Most of the recipes here at Blue Kitchen come with one. A new cookbook. An old family tradition. A restaurant discovery. Not this one. This recipe came from two simple questions.

The first was: “What would I like to eat right now?” A large jar of kimchi had recently made its way to our fridge, and that immediately came to mind. The followup question was equally straightforward: “What would be good with that?” Suddenly, this dish popped into my head, pretty much as it appears here now. Seared pork chops finished in a pan of kimchi and cannellini beans. Fermented Napa cabbage, an absolute staple of Korean kitchens, and white beans indelibly tied to Italian cooking. Pork is an ingredient found on many tables in many countries.

I wasn’t consciously trying for any kind of fusion dish. (And no, I don’t expect Korean-Italian food to become a thing.) This one-pan meal speaks more to my penchant for simple comfort foods and my willingness to borrow from cuisines everywhere. And while the kimchi brings plenty of its tangy, pungent heat to the dish, it doesn’t take over. The beans, some butter and a little sweet rice wine (optional) all serve to calm it down a bit.

Pork Chops with Kimchi and Cannellini Beans
Serves 4

4 bone-in pork chops, about 3/4-inch thick and 8 ounces each
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2-1/2 cups roughly chopped kimchi
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup water
1/2 cup pickling juice from the kimchi jar
1 tablespoon mirin (sweet rice wine, optional—see Kitchen Notes)
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Pat chops dry with paper toweling and arrange in a large nonreactive dish (I used a 10×15 glass baking dish). Season chops on both sides with salt and pepper. Cover with chopped kimchi and let marinate for 20 to 30 minutes, turning halfway through.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high flame, swirling to combine. When pan is good and hot, add the chops, scraping off any kimchi first. Sear on one side until browned, about 5 to 6 minutes. Turn and cook on second side for 2 minutes or so. Transfer chops to plate.

Add kimchi, water, kimchi pickling juice and mirin to pan. Scrape up any browned bits and stir in Cannellini beans. Season with black pepper. Return chops to pan, along with any accumulated juices. Bring liquid to a boil, then reduce to a brisk simmer. Cook until chops are cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Taste kimchi/bean mixture and season with a little salt, if needed. Ours was fine without, but saltiness of kimchi varies greatly. Spoon kimchi/bean mixture into four shallow bowls and top with chops. Serve.

Kitchen Notes

Do I really need the mirin? Mirin, a sweet rice wine, is widely used in Japanese cuisine (another country heard from). It adds just a touch of sweetness to counteract the tartness of the kimchi. We usually have it on hand. If you don’t, you could stir in a tablespoon of honey, or you could just forget it. The dish will still be delicious.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

John/Kitchen Riffs November 16, 2016 at 8:23 am

Fun dish! A lot of neat flavors going on in this. Kimchi is good stuff, isn’t it? Not something I use all that much, but always enjoy it when I do. Really creative recipe — definitely worth a try. Thanks!

Eeka November 17, 2016 at 6:26 pm

Sounds great!

Terry B November 18, 2016 at 8:24 pm

John, kimchi sometimes falls off our radar screen, but when it comes back, it always makes us happy.

Thanks, Eeka!

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