Ana Castro's pork chop on a plate garnished with slaw and prune mole

Ana Castro’s Pork Chops with Mole Sauce

Ana Castro based her pork chop recipe on one her grandmother has been making for New Years Eve since the 80s. She chooses pork chops over a larger roast to make the recipe a little less complicated. But it’s still big on flavor thanks to the complex mole sauce served with it.

The mole sauce is made from prunes, a variety of dried chiles, almonds and citrus. “Prunes have a sultriness to them. They are very rich and like velvet,” says Ana. She recommends serving the pork chops with a crisp slaw. “You get the texture from the meat, the texture from the fat, and then you get the velvety almost coats your mouth feeling from the prunes. And then you get some acid from the slaw. It just completes everything. It doesn’t compete, it completes.”

prunes, chiles, citrus and pork chop - ingredients displayed for Ana Castro's pork chop recipe

What is the best way to cook pork chops without them drying out?

Ana recommends brining the pork chops to help them stay moist. Another way to ensure juicy and tender pork chops is to not overcook them!

What do you soak pork chops in before cooking?

To brine the pork, dissolve the salt and sugar in 4 cups of hot water, once dissolved, add the cinnamon, bay leaf, garlic and peppercorn, followed by 2 cups ice, once the liquid has cooled down, submerge the pork chops and let stand in the brine for at least 2 hours but no longer than 6 in the refrigerator. Once brining is done, pull from the liquid, discard the brining liquid, and pat the chops dry. Let them stand at room temperature for about 15-20 min out of the fridge before cooking them.

What cooking method is best for pork chops?

For this pork chop recipe, Ana quicky pan sears the chops, then finishes them in the oven. This ensures that the chops get nice and golden brown, but aren’t overcooked. The pork chops are done when they reach an internal temperature of 150°F (65°C).

What is mole sauce made of?

Mole is a complex Mexican sauce usually made with dried chiles, nuts, spices and dried fruit. For this recipe, Ana combines a variety of dried chiles, onions, garlic, ginger, black peppercorns and cloves along with toasted almonds, prunes, oranges. She describes it as “velvety” and as a perfect compliment to the brined pork chops.

ana castro plating the pork chop recipe

Try another of Ana’s amazing dishes featuring California Prunes

Ana Castro's Sweet Corn Tamales with Prunes and Pecans on a plate

Sweet Tamales with Prunes & Pecans

Sweet tamales are a traditional Mexican dessert, but Ana Castro’s version is a sophisticated twist on the classic recipe. They’re filled with prunes and pecans and have a surprising touch of miso for added depth of flavor. Then they’re topped with a creamy, nutty glaze and finished with a sprinkle of salt. These dessert tamales are a showstopping addition to your holiday dessert line up!

ana castro's pork chop with miso plated

Bone in Pork Chops in Prune Mole

Ana Castro
Ana Castro based her pork chop recipe on one her grandmother has been making for New Years Eve since the 80s. She chooses pork chops over a larger roast to make the recipe a little less complicated. But it's still big on flavor thanks to the complex mole sauce served with it.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 50 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine Chef Created, Mexican
Servings 12
Calories 492 kcal

Equipment

  • Blender
  • large oven proof skillet
  • Meat thermometer

Ingredients
 
 

  • 12 bone in pork chops
  • 3 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the brine:

  • 1 cup Brown sugar
  • 4 cups Water
  • 1/2 cup Salt
  • Cinnamon stick
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2 Cloves of garlic
  • 10 Peppercorns

For the sauce, Yields 2 qts sauce

  • 1/3 cup Vegetable oil
  • 6 Ancho Chiles
  • 4 Guajillo chilis
  • 2 Arbol chilis
  • 1 thumb Ginger
  • 1 medium Onion
  • 8 cloves Garlic
  • 3 teaspoons Salt
  • 2 cups Almonds sliced and toasted
  • 3 cups Prunes
  • 1 Orange no peel or pith
  • 1 quart Water
  • Water for blending as needed
  • 2 cups Orange juice
  • 5 Black Peppercorns
  • 1 Clove

Instructions
 

  • To brine the pork, dissolve the salt and sugar in 4 cups of hot water, once dissolved, add the cinnamon, bay leaf, garlic and peppercorn, followed by 2 cups ice, once the liquid has cooled down, submerge the pork chops and let stand in the brine for at least 2 hours but no longer than 6 in the refrigerator. Once brining is done, pull from the liquid, discard the brining liquid, and pat the chops dry. Let them temper stand at room temperature for about 15/20 min out of the fridge before cooking them.
  • To cook, preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C), you can do this while the pork comes to room temperature. Once the oven is hot, season your chops generously with salt and black pepper. Add vegetable oil (like grapeseed or canola) to a large skillet. Add pork, and remember not to overcrowd the pan. You’re searing so it needs to be high temp and quick. After the chops are a deep golden brown on each side, transfer to a baking rack or sheet.
  • Deglaze the pan with a cup of white wine, of you don’t have it or you don’t consume alcohol, water works fine! Bring to a simmer, once it reduces by half, turn the pan off.
  • In another pot, Heat up your oil. Once the oil is hot, toast your chiles very quickly coating them evenly in the oil so they “bloom." Take them out of the oil and set aside. Next up add your onions, garlic ginger, stir to coat in oil and cook on med high heat until you get brown edges of caramelization on your onions. Then add your black peppercorn and clove immediately followed by salt. Stir and reincorporate your chiles along with toasted almonds, prunes, oranges. Stir and let everything cook for a couple of minutes on medium heat. Then add the leftover deglazing liquid from the pan you seared the chops into the pan, along with a quart of water. Cook until everything is soft, and water has reduced by half.
  • Blend using a regular blender while hot. Use extra water and orange juice to help you with the blending process. Check for salt. You can adjust the thickness of your sauce with water. Don’t forget the sauce is hot so exercise caution while blending and vent the top of the blender.
  • While you blend your sauce, place the pork in the oven and bake for about 10 min. You’re looking for an internal temperature of 145-150°F (63-65°C). I usually check the temperature of the pork after searing to give an idea of how much longer it must go. For example, if your chops are at 100°F(38°C) core temperature, it will take around 8-12 min to come up to a safe tempt of 150°F (65°C).
  • Once your pork is cooked, transfer to a tray that is not hot to rest, rest for about 5 minutes before slicing and covering with the prune sauce. You can also present the gorgeous chop with the sauce on the side, versatility is this dish’s strong suit! If you are feeling fancy, you can garnish it with candied orange peels. Serve with tortillas or bread.

Notes

The idea behind this dish is a family potluck, so be like my grandmother and delegate side dishes to someone else for a most successful and low stress New Year’s Eve celebration. I personally love a side of rice with this dish or a simple salad, at Lengua Madre I serve it with shaved mirliton dressed in an orange juice vinaigrette.

Nutrition

Serving: 1chopCalories: 492kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 37gFat: 28gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 8gMonounsaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 90mgSodium: 737mgPotassium: 1156mgFiber: 9gSugar: 14gVitamin A: 5066IUVitamin C: 34mgCalcium: 103mgIron: 3mg
Keyword chilis, mole sauce, pork chops, prune mole
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headshot of Ana Castro wearing a green apron and standing in a kitchen

CHEF ANA CASTRO

Raised in Mexico City by her grandmother, Ana Castro learned early the importance of sourcing and preparing food. After traveling the world to learn more about different cuisines and cultures she settled in New Orleans. There she worked her way to sous chef at Coquette and was named a finalist for a 2018 James Beard Foundation Rising Star Award. In 2021, Castro opened Lengua Madre, serving a five-course tasting menu inspired by her Mexican heritage. In 2022, Lengua was named one of Bon Appetit’s 50 Best New Restaurants in 2022, and Castro was hailed as one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs.