In parts one and two of our interview with Nickel Diner's chef Monica May and general manager Kristen Trattner, they explained how they want you to feel like you're sitting on Trattner's lap while May is feeding you, that eating at the Nickel Diner should feel like coming home. To that end, May has shared with us a recipe for pork chops, succotash and pepper jam, a collection of flavors bright, sweet and comforting.

The pepper jam came about when a neighbor brought over a batch of her own to taste. May liked it so much, she came up with her own; though her original name for it, “My Neighbor's Hot Jam,” had to be changed. Wouldn't want to give the wrong impression.

Pork chops are brined before get the pan roast treatment, served alongside the pepper jam and succotash. At the Nickel, you'd get this in a towering mound of comfort food with sweet potato tater tots and fried onions, but we promise that with these three components alone, you'll be tasting a dish just like you had at grandma's house. Or hey, if grandma didn't make food this good, there's always room for revisionist history.

Pan Roast Pork Chop with Succotash and Pepper Jam

From: Monica May of Nickel Diner

Makes: 2 servings, with extra pepper jam for later


1 ear of white corn

1 medium zucchini, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 cup edamame beans, cooked and taken out of pods

2 tablespoons shallots, minced

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup white wine

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup basil, juilenned

1. Melt the butter over medium low heat and gently cook shallots until soft. Cut off the kernels of corn from the cob and add to pan along with zucchini, pepper, and edamame beans. Increase heat to medium high and add white wine, cooking until the alcohol has evaporated. Add heavy cream and basil and cook until the vegetables are just cooked through.

Pepper Jam aka My Neighbor's Hot Jam:

6-7 red Fresno chiles, seeded and diced

1 poblano chile, seeded and diced

1/2 cup shallots, minced

2 tablespoons red chile flakes

8 cups sugar

4 cups rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

3 ounces pectin (2 packages)

1. Combine all the ingredients except the pectin into a large pot and heat over high heat, whisking until combined. When it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until syrupy and golden.

2. Stir in the pectin and simmer for another 10 minutes. Remove the mixture from heat, pour into a pan and chill.

Pan Roast Pork Chop and assembly:

2 cups buttermilk

1 teaspoon dried sage or 2 fresh sage leaves, chopped

4-5 dashes of Tabasco

2 garlic cloves

2 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 pork chops

vegetable oil

1/4 cup chicken stock

pepper jam, to taste


1 tablespoon chives, snipped

1. Create the buttermilk brine by combining the buttermilk, sage, Tabasco, garlic, salt and brown sugar in a container big enough to fit two pork chops and mixing until incorporated. Add the pork chops into the brine and allow them to rest in the refrigerator for at least four hours.

2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Remove the pork chops from refrigerator, wipe off excess brine and pat dry. Allow them to come to room temperature. Heat a pan large enough to hold both pork chops over high heat and enough oil to just cover it when hot. When the oil is shimmering and hot, add the pork chops one by one. Once the pork chops are browned, top with chicken stock and pepper jam and put the pan into the oven. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until the pork chop is just cooked through.

3. Serve the pork chops with succotash, pepper jam on the side and top with chives.

LA Weekly