Let me just start by saying that I’ve had a huge grin on my face ever since coming up with this idea. It all started when my wife and I were coming back from our hiking trip in the White Mountains, and we stopped at a little market and bought “Forbidden Black Rice.” I’ve only had black rice once before (in Randa, Switzerland at the restaurant owned by the man behind the inspiration for Insalata de Mario). It was delicious when he made it…but if you’ve ever experienced black rice, you know that it presents a bit of an aesthetic challenge, as it has a tendency to bear a disconcerting resemblance to mouse poop.
With that as the backdrop to our thinking, we definitely did not want to scatter it about our plate. However, we feared that if it were a mound under an entree, it would lose some of its caché. After diving deeper into this dilemma than was likely necessary, an idea erupted! We decided to build it into a mountain around a piece of pork and then top it with a sauce to resemble lava.
As the idea came into full form, we decided to include a green vegetable (what self respecting mountain has no vegetation around its base?). We considered broccoli, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts as viable options. The sprouts looked the best at the store, so they won.
I’d be lying if I didn’t think about putting a little baking soda atop the pork and mixing some vinegar into the sauce when plating. But, alas, I got too afraid to go through with it. Next time, maybe.
Time: 45 Minutes
- Boneless Pork Loin Chops (although, I suppose chicken and/or beef would also work)
- Black Rice (about 1/2 cup per pork chop)
- Water (about 1.5 cups per 1/2 cup of rice)
- Brussels Sprouts, Asparagus, or Broccoli
- For your sauce:
- Red Bell Pepper
- Habanero Pepper (if your sauce is going to be “lava,” it should be hot, right?)
- Coconut Milk
- Optional: Paprika to deepen your sauce colour
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- Wash and slice your peppers (remove habanero seeds in accordance with your capsaicin tolerance level), wrap in foil, and roast for about 25 minutes.
- Bring the water for your rice to a boil in a pot, and then add your rice. Cover, and simmer for about 35-40 minutes.
- As your peppers and rice begin, wash and cut your green veggie into the shape of your “bushes or trees” Then, roast them (time will vary based on your choice of vegetable…you can also steam, but you’d want to do that later in the process).
- Cut your pork in half, and give each chop a little salt sprinkle on the top and bottom, and set aside
- After your 25 minute pepper roasting is up, remove your peppers from the oven, and pour them (including any juices) into your blender/Ninja/food processor, and puree. Pour the puree into a sauce pan with some coconut milk. Add paprika as needed to make your sauce redder.
- When your rice is about 10-15 minutes from being ready, heat a cast iron pan with some butter or oil, and when it’s hot, add your pork. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, and then flip, and cook for another 5-7 minutes (timing depends on heat of pan and thickness of your meat). When your pork reaches an internal cooked temperature of at least 145 degrees F (medium…shoot for 165 degrees F if you prefer well done), it’s ready.
- After you flip your pork, start heating your lava sauce, and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
- Stack two pork halves in the middle of your plate.
- Build a rice mound around your pork (aka construct your mountain).
- Place your vegetation around your rice mountain.
- Drizzle your sauce over the top of your mountain so it runs down the sides.
- Devour, and enjoy!