Pan-Fried Porkchops in Cumin Tomato Sauce

If ever there was a spice I have learned to hate, it’s cumin. Does everyone have that one spice that they just can’t get behind no matter what the rest of the cooking world might argue? No matter how little I use in a recipe (and I generally reduce the amount required by fifty percent, if not more), it ends up overwhleming my palette in nearly every bite.
It leaps out from the rest of the ingredients and does laps around the back of my teeth so I feel like I’m tasting it for days. If it wasn’t for my OCD, I’d throw out what’s left in my cupboard and be done with the stuff forever, but knowing there is purchased spice lying unused in a trash basket would keep me up at night. So cumin gets a reprieve… for the time being.

My dislike of the stuff led me a few weeks back to Google “I hate cumin” and see what would come up. Turns out I’m far from alone. Here are some of the web highlights:

  • “I hate cumin.  I can’t even stand the smell.”
  • “I…..don’t…..really….like…..cumin.  Rephrase.  I…..hate…..cumin.  It smells like wet dog to me!”
  • “…no cumin (I hate cumin)”
  • “I hate cumin and restaurants that try to sneak it into perfectly lovely things like veal piccata.”
  • “cumin sucks men of their life forces”
  • “cumin smells like feet, unless im thinkin of somethin else, but im pretty sure that crap is cumin”

Nice to know there are others. Even nicer was discovering amidst the web results, a link to the wonderful Seriously Delicious, hosted by the talented “Her Chefness,” a video game tester in Washington. “Her Chefness” has apparently gone through some sort of cumin-haters deprogramming therapy, and this recipe seems to have had something to do with it. It had been lingering in my consciousness for weeks after reading it, and I finally found time to get to the store and pick up the boneless pork loin chops, something I haven’t eaten in probably 20 years. The meal was delicious. MG loved it even more than I did. It’s also simple to make, easy to clean up after, and, of course, fun to photograph.

Pan-Fried Porkchips in Cumin Tomato Sauce

Altered from Seriously Delicious. Altered from Dining Alone

2 boneless pork loin chops, about 1″ thick
1/2 c. chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cooked cannellinni beans
3 stalks celery, chopped
35 tsp. ground cumin (just kidding – 1 tsp. cumin)
1 can (15oz) diced or crushed tomatoes
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Season your chops with salt and pepper and place in a heated pan with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook between 4 and 5 minutes on either side, until they’re well-browned. Take them out of the pan and wrap them in aluminum foil or set in the oven to keep warm.

Add your onions and garlic to the pan and heat until the onions start to brown and soften. Stir religiously.

Then add in the celery and the dreaded cumin and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes (the original recipe called for about 2 tablespoons of lime juice, but that didn’t sit well with me). Stir until fully combined.

Add pork back into pan and cover with sauce. Add beans and simmer for approximately 15 minutes or until chops are cooked through. I added roasted Brussels sprouts and a little garlic bread, suggestion courtesy of Her Chefness’ photos. I really don’t think this recipe required the cumin at all, and next time I make it, cumin will not be invited to the party.

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4 thoughts on “Pan-Fried Porkchops in Cumin Tomato Sauce

  • April 15, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    Found you by doing the same google search. I *was* able to throw out the newly-purchased jar of cumin, and the entire recipe made from it. Even though my husband was the offender.

    The recipe above is intriguing, except that one thing I hate only slightly less than cumin is pork chops.

  • April 16, 2010 at 9:49 am

    Thanks for the post, Heather. I noticed in my stats that someone had googled their hatred of cumin and found my site – so glad to know there’s more out there than just me. This is definitely a “once in a while and you really have to be in the mood for it” meal for me since I am not a big pork chop-o, either, but the sauce the and sprouts took it a long way.

  • August 14, 2010 at 5:39 am

    Same here. Found this site by googling “hate cumin”. I once found a recipe for deep-fried crunchy eggplant that called for 1 teaspoon cumin and some pepper (only those 2 spices). I thought it was going to be lovely because I had no idea what cumin tastes like. Boy, was I wrong. My first impression was, it tasted like some kind of strong tasting dust. Of course, it doesn’t taste like dust but it was weird. It’s really good to know that my taste buds aren’t alone.

  • November 28, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    So…after 2 and a half years, are those poor cannellini (sp!) beans still waiting to get in the pan?

    Not sure what all this anti-cumin stuff is about, though. Unless you hate Indian and Mexican cuisine and most of the Near-Eastern ones as well, that is. My guess is, you’ve had it and enjoyed it a hundred times.

    Funny–the beans don’t go in the recipe, but beans and cumin are a pretty classic combo. Cumin and tomato sauces, too. Leave all 3 out and just braise the chops with a mess of celery! Find out how good celery can taste.

    2nd time you make that one, add some caraway seed. Which looks like whole cumin. Heh.

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