Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Set a 12-inch saute pan over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season the pork chops on both sides with the Essence, 2 teaspoons of the salt and 1 teaspoon of the black pepper. Sear the chops, 3 at a time in the hot skillet, until well caramelized, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer pork chops to a baking sheet and set aside. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan and sear the remaining 3 pork chops. Transfer to the baking sheet with the other pork chops and roast in the oven until cooked through, about 12 minutes.
While the pork chops are roasting, add the bacon to the saute pan used to brown the pork chops and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring frequently, until the bacon is crispy, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic to the pan and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the cabbage to the pan and season with the remaining teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until just wilted, about 15 minutes.
Remove the pork chops from the oven and serve, with the shrimp, crabmeat and mirliton dressing and sauteed cabbage.
Shrimp, Crabmeat and Mirliton Dressing:
21/2 pounds (about 4) medium mirlitons (chayotes)
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Essence, recipe follows
1 cup chopped yellow onions
1/2 cup chopped green bell peppers
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 pound lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartilage
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dried fine bread crumbs
1 teaspoon Emeril's Kick It Up! Red Pepper Sauce, or other red hot sauce
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/2 cups freshly grated cheddar cheese
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the mirlitons and cook until tender, 45 minutes to an hour. Remove from the heat, drain, and set aside to cool completely.
Meanwhile, combine the shrimp with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon Essence in a mixing bowl and toss to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
When the mirlitons are cool, cut them in half lengthwise, remove the seeds, peel, and coarsely chop. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, and jalapeno. Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon Essence and the thyme. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft and lightly golden, 4 to 6 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add the mirlitons and cook, mashing them with a potato masher, until very tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 30 minutes. Add the shrimp, crab meat, salt, black pepper, green onions, and parsley. Cook, stirring, until the shrimp turn pink, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Add the eggs, 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs, and the pepper sauce. Mix well. Grease a 6 compartment Texas-size muffin tin with the melted butter and coat with 1/4 cup of the remaining breadcrumbs. Spoon the mirliton mixture into the muffin tin. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cheese evenly over the top of each muffin, then sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons bread crumbs. Bake until the topping is lightly browned and bubbly, about 20 to 25 minutes. Allow the dressing to cool for at least 15 minutes, then lay an inverted baking sheet covered with lightly oiled parchment paper on top of the muffin tin so that the parchment paper is touching the tops of the dressing. Invert the muffin tin and turn the dressings out of the tin. Serve warm, cheese side up.
Yield: 6 servings
Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Combine all ingredients thoroughly.
Yield: 2/3 cup
Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch, published by William Morrow, 1993.