September Four Ingredient Challenge

by zydecopaws on September 27, 2010


Last month three of us outdoor-cooking-blogger-types separately cooked up a meal from the same four ingredients and afterwards blogged about the experience. This month a few other folks have been invited to join in, and we are at it again with four new ingredients. This month’s ingredients were:

  • Protein: Pork Chops
  • Starch: Rice
  • Vegetable: Zucchini Squash
  • Fruit: Raspberry

After some careful thought and less careful shopping for ingredients, I settled on a meal consisting of Herbed Pork Chops with Raspberry-Chipotle Sauce, Cherry Wild Rice, and Zucchini Pancakes. As before, the only real rules are that the protein be cooked outdoors, and that all the ingredients above be incorporated into the meal. There are some other procedural things with regards to when the post goes up (I actually cooked the meal and wrote this post a couple of weeks ago) and insuring that links are available to the other blogs, but I won’t bore you with those details. Or did I just do that?

This meal actually took a fair amount of time to put together. I’ve made holiday meals that took less time and left a smaller mess, so if you decide to try this at home don’t say you weren’t warned in advance. I started out by making the Raspberry Chipotle Sauce. Fresh ingredients were used for the most part…


Raspberry Chipotle Sauce

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup small diced onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle chiles chopped (or substitute 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder)
  • 2 pints fresh raspberries, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup raspberry vinegar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until soft and slightly caramelized. Add the garlic to the pan and saute for 1 minute. Add the chipotle chilies and cook, stirring continuously, for 1 minute. Add the raspberries and cook until soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the vinegar and stir to deglaze the pan. Add the sugar and salt, and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until thickened and reduced by half. Remove from the heat and cool before using.

For a clear glaze, strain through a fine mesh strainer, pressing on the solids with the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible.

This recipe is a derivative of several I found on the Internet that all seemed to trace their origin back to one by Emeril Lagasse. As usual, I monkeyed around with the recipe to fit with the ingredients I had on hand and some of my own personal preferences. I also managed to get some photos during the cooking process for those that are interested.


The photo above was taken shortly after adding the fresh raspberries to the caramelized onion, garlic, and pepper mixture but before the raspberries had a chance to start breaking down. This next picture shows what the sauce looked like after reducing, a process that took well over half an hour.


Shortly after the previous picture was taken I attempted to strain the mixture through a sieve; what I ended up with was a very small bowl of smooth glaze and a somewhat larger bowl of thick sauce with all the small chunks and bits of onions, raspberries, and (of course) seeds. I set both of these off to the side and let them cool until it was time to eat.

Next up was the Cherry Wild Rice. Once again, a recipe that traced its roots back to Emeril Lagasse, and once again, a recipe that I didn’t follow too closely.

Cherry Wild Rice

  • 8 cups water
  • 2 cups wild rice
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup medium barley
  • 1 cup dried cherries, chopped
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 cup slivered almonds

In a large saucepan, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add the rice, 1 teaspoon of butter, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and stir. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender (but not split), 40 to 45 minutes. Drain, rinse, and drain again, and transfer to a large bowl.

In a separate large saucepan, bring the remaining 4 cups of water to a boil. Add the barley, remaining 1 teaspoon of butter, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and stir. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the barley is tender but retains a crunch, about 40 minutes. Drain, rinse well, and drain the barley. Add the barley to the wild rice.

In a small bowl, place the dried cherries. Pour in enough boiling water to cover by 1-inch and let sit until plump, about 5 minutes. Drain the cherries and add to the barley/wild rice mixture.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, pepper, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Slowly add the oil in a thin stream, whisking to emulsify. Add the onions, peppers, and parsley, and whisk to incorporate. Pour over the rice and toss to coat. Add the slivered almonds and toss.

The end result was an enormous bowl of rice, enough to feed a small army. The four of us had decent sized portions at dinner and I still put away enough to fill a 9.5 cup plastic container.


While the rice was cooking I made up the rub for the pork chops. I’m pretty sure this was another variation on an Emeril Lagasse recipe, but it also wasn’t that much different than some I’ve come up with on my own in the past.

Pork Chop Rub

  • 4 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil

Combine dry ingredients to a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Add enough oil to make the mixture a good, spreadable consistency.

By this time the pile of dishes were mounting in the sink, and the thought of taking picture of the green paste that resulted from this didn’t occur to me. I spread the paste onto the pork chops and set them off to the side to sit until it was time to cook.

I cooked the pork chops a bit different than my normal method; I generally cook them indirect and don’t worry about grill marks. I’d prefer the chops to stay nice and moist, and indirect grilling seems to insure that. However I was going for grill marks tonight, so I cooked them directly over the fire on Bubba Ho-Keg for about 5-6 minutes per side. Then I moved the chops to the stainless steel grill and threw the cast iron pizza pan on the cast iron grate thinking that it would act as a diffuser and the chops could be finished off indirectly. I had other plans for the pizza pan and figured I could kill two birds with one stone, er… pan.


Of course I hadn’t thought about what happens when meat is still cooking on a grill and not in a pan. As it turned out, the drippings went all over the pan and I had to clean it out before it was time to cook the rest of the meal. As for that pan, what better than a batch of Zucchini Pancakes (stay with me here Pigdog).

Zucchini Pancakes

  • 5 to 6 medium zucchini (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Trim and coarsely shred the zucchini and the onion. In a large bowl toss zucchini, onion, and garlic with salt. Place in a colander or sieve. Place a pie plate on top of zucchini-onion mixture and weigh down with another large bowl full of water. Let drain in the sink or over a bowl for 15 minutes. Discard liquid.

Beat the eggs in the large mixing bowl. Stir in flour, Parmesan cheese, and pepper until just moistened (batter should be lumpy). Stir in shredded zucchini mixture until just combined (result will be thick).

For each zucchini pancake, spoon a rounded tablespoon of batter onto a hot, lightly oiled griddle or heavy skillet, spreading to form a 3-inch circle. Cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until the pancake is golden brown.

Serve hot topped with a dollop of sour cream, if desired.

I cleaned the pork chop drippings off the pizza pan, bowed to convention and put the pork chops in a covered pan in the house, and proceeded to fry up some zucchini pancakes.


This is a good way to use up that extra zucchini that always seems to find its way into the house this time of year.


Several of these never made it in the house. I made sure that all the “defective” ones weren’t seen by anyone else by eating them as they came off the grill. These are best if eaten right away; if they are going to sit around for any length of time I highly recommend putting them in an oven (or toaster oven) to keep them warm.

When it came time to plate everything up, the pork chops were laid on a bed of the wild rice, the rough raspberry chipotle sauce was spooned on top, and the smooth sauce drizzled over that. The zucchini pancakes that survived the inspection process joined them on the plate along with a sprig of fresh rosemary.


So there you have it, my contribution to this month’s four-ingredient challenge. And if you made it this far in the post (still with us Pigdog?), take a few minutes and go check out what my fellow bloggers did with the same ingredients; I’m sure they won’t look anything like what you’ve seen here and that you won’t be disappointed.

The BBQ Grail: A Man and his Pork Chop
The BBQ Grail website was created in 2007, initially to document the author’s quest to find the perfect backyard BBQ experience. Since that time The BBQ Grail has become one of the more popular BBQ blogs on the internet, including a listing on as one of the top BBQ blogs.

Into The Flames: Raspberry, Onion, and Port Jam Stuffed Pork Chop with Paella Filled Globe Zucchini
Rob launched Into the Flames in the summer of 2010 as a way to share his passion for cooking, eating, and exploring food.

Grill Grrrl: Raspberry Gorgonzola Stuffed Pork Chops with Zucchini Rice Boats
Robyn Medlin is the “grill girl” behind Her focus is on healthy, simple and creative recipes on the grill. She encourages women to learn to grill as it a great way to create healthy, flavorful dishes without all the fuss and clean up in the kitchen. This “grill girl” holds quarterly Women’s Grilling Clinics as a way to encourage women to not be intimated by the grill. As a McCormick’s flavor correspondent for their “This Week in Grilling Campaign”, Robyn shares fun, tropical video recipes documenting her grilling adventures from her backyard in Sunny, Hollywood, Florida.

Nibble Me This
Nibble Me This is my blog about the author’s misadventures in live fire cooking. He has no culinary training….He’s just entertaining himself with fire and food.

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