Yesterday was such a beautiful day. The first day that, for me, actually felt like spring. It was sunny and warm, so we decided to go for a bike ride to a nearby forest. It is a nice escape from the city and now that all the wild flowers are popping up, it is beautiful to see. I recently found out that there is an area in that forest where you can see Scottish Highland cows and there was a calf that was just born. So I was very excited to go see them. We were not able to see the calf but there was one cow just chilling by the side of the bike path, apart from the rest. It was nice to see it up close. All the people passing by were stopping to take pictures of it, myself included.
After about 4 hours of biking, we arrived home starving. This dish was a perfect finish of the day, comforting, filling and ready in about 35 minutes. Olive rice is something I used to eat during Christmas growing up. I actually don’t remember eating it at any another time. It is the side dish that was always present at our Christmas table. We would eat it with either roasted pork of turkey and apple sauce among other things. Nowadays it is not just a Christmas side dish for me anymore. I crave it more often. It evokes nice memories. Sometimes I like to eat with some store bought rotisserie chicken and apple sauce. But this time I made it with some pork chops with apples and shallots. The combination is just great together. This recipe serves 3.
For the olive rice:
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
2 cups of rice
300gr Kalamata olives, pitted
1 clove of garlic, minced
4 cups of boiling water
½ teaspoon of salt
For the caramelized apples and shallots:
2 apples, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of sugar
5 shallots, sliced in half
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs of thyme
3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
A good pinch of salt
Pinch of paprika powder
Pinch of cayenne
1 cup of water
For the pork chops:
3 pork chops
3 tablespoons of olive oil
3 tablespoons of honey
3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
Place the olives in the food processor. Add 3 tablespoons of water and pulse until you get a paste.
Over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to a medium pot. Add the garlic, rice and cook for 1 minute while stirring. You want the garlic to be fragrant and the rice to become translucent.
Then add the olive paste, salt and boiling water. Give it a good stir, cover it with a lid and let it cook on low heat for 18 minutes. About half way through, give it another stir so the olive paste doesn’t burn at the bottom. After the 18 minutes are up, turn off the heat and let it sit covered for about 5 minutes.
To make the caramelized apples and shallots, place the butter in a medium pan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the apples and the shallots. Cook for about 3 minutes and then add the remaining ingredients. Let it cook for about 20 minutes on medium-low heat until most of the liquid is absorbed.
To make the pork chops, first salt and pepper them. Then pour the olive oil into a large pan, over medium-high heat. Place the pork chops in the hot pan and brown both sides. Once they are browned, pour the balsamic vinegar and honey over them. Finish cooking the chops for about 2 minutes on each side, until they are completely cooked through and the sauce has caramelized. The total time will depend on the thickness of your chops.
To plate up, serve the rice first, then place the pork chop and finish with some of the apples and shallots.