Note: You really don't need to wait for summer to grill in Southern California. Any time is fine. This recipe from Times Test Kitchen Director Donna Deane was published as part of a barbecue package in July. At this season, warm things up by adding another poblano or cayenne pepper to the sauce. Of course, if a warm Santa Ana is blowing, you can always tone down the heat by adding more whipping cream.
4 loin pork chops, about 3/4-inch-thick
1/2 teaspoon crumbled Mexican oregano
1/3 cup garlic oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced
Chopped cilantro, for garnish
* Season pork chops with oregano and with salt to taste. Arrange chops in glass baking dish in single layer, pour garlic oil over and add sliced garlic. Cover and marinate several hours or overnight.
* Grill chops on hot outdoor grill or heavy cast-iron grill pan set on stove until brown on outside yet light pink in center, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Serve with warm Poblano Cream Sauce and garnish with cilantro and reserved pepper strips (from Cream Sauce).
POBLANO CREAM SAUCE
4 poblano chiles
1 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup whipping cream
Freshly ground pepper
* Roast poblano chiles on rack over gas burner or on pan beneath broiler until charred on all sides. Put roasted peppers in paper bag and fold end over to seal. Let stand to allow peppers to sweat, about 15 minutes. Peel peppers, then cut each in half and remove ribs and seeds. Cut 2 pepper halves lengthwise into strips and set aside for garnish. Chop remaining peppers coarsely and set aside.
* Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and onion and saute until onion just begins to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in broth and whipping cream. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until sauce begins to thicken slightly, about 5 minutes.
* Stir in chopped chiles and simmer 1 minute. Pour into blender and puree. Return Sauce to skillet, add salt and pepper to taste and keep warm.
4 servings. Each serving: 640 calories; 307 mg sodium; 172 mg cholesterol; 58 grams fat; 5 grams carbohydrates; 27 grams protein; 0.32 gram fiber.