Updated: Oct 19, 2021
Braised pork chops with watermelon, sounds crazy, right? Some people, and I'm just one of them, can't leave a good thing alone. Why would I, or anyone else for that matter, desire to transform watermelon? Isn't it perfect just as God made it? Lately more and more recipes are popping up on the internet using watermelon in salads, as cold treats, paired with seafood and cheeses, in making cold soups, etc. For most of us it is too much!
But what if I tell you to stretch your cooking imagination even further by making stewed watermelon, actually braising it using low and slow temperatures combined with pork chops? Does this sound crazy?
One of our must have summer treats are these Creamy Watermelon-Lime Popsicles
Just like cucumber, watermelon loses much of its soul when subjected to heat. That's why you never see cooked watermelon. However, this recipe is a must try and I promise that no one and I mean that NO ONE at the dinner table will think they are eating watermelon. Everybody who eats this dish will initially think they are eating tomatoes!
The marriage that happens between the pork and the sweet juicy watermelon during the slow cooking process produces unbelievable results. A juicy, fragrant and just simply perfect dish to serve for a summer dinner party.
Just like cucumber, watermelon loses much of its soul when subjected to heat. That's why we never seeing cooked watermelon. But I promise this recipe is must try, and I promise you, that no one and I mean that NO ONE at the dinner table will think they eat watermelon. Everybody who eats this will think the watermelon is tomato.
I think the marriage that happens between pork and sweet juicy watermelon during slow cooking process produces is unbelievably good result. Juicy, fragment, and just simply perfect to serve for summer dinner party.
Did I ever mention that I'm a big lover of pork? Here is why: Ukraine is located in a region where pork is raised as a prime protein, alongside poultry. Cows are more common to use for dairy production.
Ukrainian deep history provides the answer for it hasn't been just due to the climate but with regarding religion and relations between our neighboring countries like Turkey. They have always maintained a great influence on our Ukrainian lands.
During the 14th and 16th centuries Tatar and Turks from the Osman's empire were the main danger to Ukrainian people. They have been plundering Ukrainians for many, many decades, and taking away their food stocks. Based on their religion they could take anything but pork for the Muslims don't allow the consumption of pig. Because the pigs were spared during these raids and plunders, many lives were saved. As a result there is a deep love for this meat that will forever exist within the Ukraine people.
My mom loves pork and truly hates the flavor of beef so a steak or hamburger dinner is not something I would serve when she visits with us. As you can readily guess I grew up on pork.
However, during the first 5 years in the US I lived in Massachusetts and learned how to love beef. Since our move to the South I noticed that pork BBQ is a big deal here, and it reminds me of home along with other dishes like cornmeal which Southerners call grits.
Pork provides protein and is not only tasty but is also very inexpensive, and can be married with many flavors that you wish. Pork chops are a very popular item on the menu of many restaurants. Why? It's easy and quick to cook, and with very little effort can produce juicy, tender and sweet meat that easily goes well with pretty much any sauce you prefer. Home cooked pork chops often are overcooked, dry, chewy and lacking in flavor. Why Americans, especially the older generation seem to overcook their pork is a mystery to me, but this is a conversation for another time.
Today I am requesting that you put on your cooking armor of bravery and try something different, tender and juicy meat with a complex flavorful sauce that is 100% delish. You can serve with any side dish.
Even though it's takes a little bit of time to cook, there is almost no hands-on time.
How to serve
Serve with any of your favorite side dishes. I personally love to serve with something that can absorb the aromatic liquid pooled around the meat. The liquid you will find in your casserole dish will be more brothy than saucy.
To serve, spoon the watermelon chunks and some of the red curry broth on top of the pork chops and know that if you don't serve this on top of something with the ability to soak up the red juice, you have totally missed an opportunity to tickle your taste buds with absolute deliciousness!
Mashed potatoes, Cheesy Cauliflower "Mashed Potatoes", or Herb-Butter rice will do a fantastic job in absorbing the sauce.
Let's do it...
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 55 minutes
Author: Inna of innichkachef.com
Served: 4 portions
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
4 pork chops, 8-ounce each (I used bone-in chops in the video)
3 teaspoons of Celtic salt
2 teaspoons of freshly ground or cracked black pepper
2/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup maple syrup
3 Tablespoons red curry paste
2-3 Tablespoons fish sauce
5 cups watermelon, cut into 11/2-inch cubes, seeds removed
3-4 sprigs of fresh rosemary (optional)
Preheat your oven to 350F. Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet on medium heat until it's almost smoking. Season the pork chops with salt, freshly ground or cracked black pepper and drizzle with olive oil on both sides. Single layer in the skillet doing two chops at the time. Place rosemary next to the chops. Brown the pork chops on both sides until they are a nice deep brown color. The more caramelization that occurs with your chops produces more intense flavor toward the end of the braising.
3. Once the pork chops look good, place them into a casserole dish nice and tight. Next scatter the watermelon over the top of each chop and then evenly pour on the vinegar mixture.
4. Cover with foil tightly and place the casserole dish onto the middle rack of your oven. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for an additional 40 minutes.
5. After 1 hour and 50 minutes in the oven, the pork will be tender and the watermelon will look like shriveled tomatoes. There will be a good amount of juicy aromatic liquid. Use this liquid as a sauce when you are ready to serve with rice or something with the ability to soak up the red juice.
Enjoy with good wine and great dinner companions!