This past week, I decided to step outside my comfort zone and try something different. Since apricots are in season this month and are practically featured at every Farmer’s Market stand, I knew the soft orange fruit would be a great base for something interesting. But I was stumped about what I could possibly create.
As I walked through my regular Tuesday Farmers Market, located in a neighborhood called Lincoln Square in Chicago, I started to ask some of the vendors for suggestions of their favorite ways to use apricots. Many of them laughed, some took the easy route and suggested a cobbler. One person even sarcastically said, “I don’t know, I just grow them.” Well, that’s living in the big city for you. I have to admit, I was a little frustrated when I left the market. I felt making a dessert would be too easy. I make deserts all the time, and quite well I might add. If I include the apricots into a sauce, there is always a risk of the sauce turning out too sweet. Who wants to feel like they’re eating candy for dinner? Well, I know a couple of people that would love the idea. But, that’s beside the point. What if the juice causes the sauce to be too runny? Do you peel them? There is nothing left to do but research.
Back at home with my organic cotton tote bag of farmer fresh goodies spread across my lovely green granite counter, my research began. I first started with my wide selection of “fundraiser cookbooks”. These are the spiral-bound books you find at any craft fair or small town fundraiser. I affectionately call these my “old lady cookbooks” because a, shall we say, seasoned woman is always trying to hulk her trade cooking secrets for her granddaughter’s dance troupe at $10 a pop. Of course, my bookshelf of over 20 cookbooks tells you I’m a sucker for a fundraiser.
Ok, back to the food Cory, my old lady cookbook collection didn’t offer any inspiration. It was time to turn to the trusty internet. First the standard sites like foodnetwork.com, chow.com and even recipes.com. None of them helped. Next were my favorite blog sites like the smittenkitchen.com and pioneerwoman.com. While their stories were interesting and propelled me closer to accomplishing creative genus, they still didn’t hit the mark. Finally, like a ray of sunshine glowing from my computer monitor, I realized mangos and apricots work really well together and can be complemented in a savory sauce for pork chops or chicken. That is when Grilled Pork Steak with an Apricot-Mango Sauce was born.
The color of the sauce is electrifying with its bright yellow and orange color radiating against the char of the grilled pork steak. While I was creating this recipe, I had to taste it multiple times because there was a huge risk of making it too sweet. Make sure you adjust the sugar accordingly to balance sweetness of the mango and apricot. Plus, at the last moment of the cooking process I added the Worcestershire sauce. It really adds a smokey depth of flavor to the entire sauce.
Grilled Pork Steak with Apricot-Mango Sauce
6 – 8 pork steaks
salt and pepper
1 mango, peeled and cubed
1 ½ cup fresh unpeeled apricots, halved and pitted
¼ cup juice of an orange
1 tsp. orange zest
4 Tbl. white sugar
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Pinch of salt
Place the cubed mango, halved apricots, orange zest, juice of an orange, sugar and cinnamon in a sauce pan. Simmer over medium heat for 5 – 6 minutes, or until the fruit is soft. Remove the pan from the heat and add the Worcestershire sauce and salt. Allow the sauce to cool in the pan. Finally, process the mixture to the desired consistency in the food processor.
Season your pork steaks with the salt and pepper to taste. Grill on each side until the meat reaches desired temperature, at least 160 degrees. Just before removing the pork steaks from the grill, brush small amount of the sauce on each steak and allow it to caramelize for 1 minute. Spoon the remaining sauce on the pork steaks just before serving. Serves 6 to 8 people
Authors note: I used pork steaks because they were on sale at the grocery store. Yep, I believe using fresh and high-quality ingredients is important to the success of a meal, but I also love a great deal. Pork chops or even a pork tender loin would work really well with this sauce. Also, I served couscous with the pork steaks to help balance out the bold flavor of the sauce.