The spirit of Puerto Rico is playful and happy. Puerto Ricans love to gather together for big parties with lots of food, good drinks and great music for dancing. Over the 30 years that I have been visiting Puerto Rico I have made many friends there and whenever I visit we try and get together for a celebration. No matter what the occasion, we always make sure to have some of my friend Apa’s roast pig or “lechon” as barbecue is known on the island. While it is not practical to roast a whole pig for a small dinner, I can still recall the flavors of “La Fiesta” through dishes like this seared pork chop with onions and scented bananas. Enjoy this with a refreshing beer or a great rum cocktail.
Heat 2 large pans over medium heat with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in each pan. Season the pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper. Add 2 pork chops to each pan, and cook over medium heat until the pork has a nice crust. Flip and repeat for the other side. The pork should be cooked until the internal temperature reads 155 degrees. Remove from the pan and allow to rest. Add the onions to the pans with the pork drippings cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until they are light brown and tender. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat a large, non-stick pan over medium-low heat. Add two tablespoons of butter and the whole bananas to the pan. Cook over medium-low heat, making sure not to burn the butter. Once the first side of the bananas becomes golden brown, flip them all and add the rosemary to the pan. Continue cooking until the other sides are golden brown and the bananas are tender. Season with salt and pepper.
Lay out 4 plates. Put one pork chop on each plate and cover with sautéed onions and a pat of maître d’hotel butter on the top. Serve the bananas on the side, garnishing with the rosemary and pan juices. Place half of a fresh lemon on each plate for squeezing over the pork chop, onions and bananas just before eating.
Maître d’Hotel Butter
Place the butter in a bowl stir until creamy with a rubber spatula. Add the shallots, parsley, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and a pinch of freshly ground pepper to the butter and mix well.
Transfer the butter to a sheet of plastic and roll into a cylinder. Store in the refrigerator until it is firm ready to use. Slice the butter in 1/8 inch slices, removing the plastic around for each portion. You can slice the butter while it is still in the plastic, leaving any remaining of the roll wrapped for another use. The butter will keep when wrapped and refrigerated for one week.
4 8-ounce, bone-in pork chops
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium Spanish onions, peeled, halved and sliced
8-12 ripe, yellow baby (Niño) bananas, peeled and left whole
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup rosemary leaves, picked from stem
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 slices of maître d’butter (see recipe below)
2 fresh lemons cut in half
Maître d’Hotel Butter
¼ pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoons shallot, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon lemon zest
¼ teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper