Pork chops! If my husband were the cook in our house, we would have pork chops every other day! I have always loved the idea of the perfectly cooked chop, and I think I finally figured it out. We were always told to cook the pork really well, so the results would be overdone, dried-out pork chops. On a visit to North Carolina, I stumbled upon a well-stocked Mexican market. I was amazed at their spice selection and pleasantly surprised to find annatto, in a ground version. If you are still unfamiliar with annatto, also known as achiote, it’s just one of those spices, that once you use it, it will become a staple in your pantry!
Note: This dish, while it cooks quite quickly, does require 3 hours of marinating time and another half-hour to come to room temperature before cooking.
Lay the pork chops in a large, glass baking dish and lightly season with salt; set aside.
Combine the oregano, peppercorns, cumin seeds, and coriander seeds in a molcajete or a mortar. Crush down as much as you can with the pestle, but still leaving it coarse. Transfer to a bowl, and add the vinegar, salt, garlic, jalapeño, annatto, and olive oil. Whisk to combine, taste for salt. Pour marinade over pork chops and make sure they are evenly coated. Cover and marinate for at least 3 hours in the refrigerator.
Remove the pork chops from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking. When ready, preheat a heavy, nonstick skillet to medium heat for a few minutes. Shake excess marinade from chops and cook 2 at a time if there is room in the pan, do not overcrowd. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes per side, transfer to a plate and tent (cover lightly) with foil paper while you cook the rest.
If you are using a thicker pork chop, cook in the same manner, but you want to just sear the pork chop, finish cooking in a preheated 350ºF oven for an additional 20 minutes.