Friday, June 29, 2012

Pork Chops with Tart Cherry Sauce


I'm always intrigued by the idea of cooking fruits with meats. However, when I eat such dishes, even when it's good, my reaction is just kind of, "that's interesting." I don't know; they just don't seem to really go together (unless you count tomatoes or lemons, but I'm thinking fruits with more sweetness in them). Oh, except for this one fried spring roll with blueberry jam dish that I had at a kushi restaurant when I was living in Japan. That was a revelation for me, about sweetness and savoriness. But in that case, there's the fried dough skin also involved, so I'm not sure it falls in the same, admittedly vague, category.

I dunno, maybe it's sweet meats in general. I think sweetness has its place in meat dishes, but not too much of it. Teriyaki, bulgogi, tang cu pork, some Chinese dried meats and sausages, et cetera et cetera all have some degree of sweetness in them, but in good measure. Fruits can definitely be good flavoring the sauces and marinades for meat dishes (mango comes to mind), but eating them directly with the meat I think is where things get disjointed for me.

In any case, several weeks ago I got a bunch of tart cherries in my CSA share and wanted to find uses for them outside of pies. Actually, eating them fresh tasted pretty good to me, too, since, come on, they're not that sour. But besides tossing them in salads, I decided to give them a shot with pork chops. I made a sweetened sauce with the tart cherries to go over the sautéed pork chops. The result? Tasty. Interesting. I mean actually good, but you know.

This makes me think of the Japanese mitsudomoe design.

I used the sauce part of this recipe and spice rub and sautéing part of this one in making my own dish.

Sautéed Pork Chops

1/2 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cumin
3 center loin or center rib pork chops, 1-inch-thick, patted dry with paper towels
1 TBS coconut oil (butter if you can have it, or just vegetable oil)

Tart Cherry Sauce

1/2 pint tart cherries, pitted
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup honey
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 3 TBS water
  1. Mix salt and pepper with cinnamon and cumin. Rub mixture over chops. Cover loosely, let stand up to 2 hours at room temperature.
  2. Melt coconut oil in a 10- to 12-inch skillet over a strong medium-high heat.
  3. Lay pork chops in skillet, bony side facing toward center of skillet; saute until browned on one side, about 1 minute. Turn chops with tongs and saute until browned on other side, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook chops 4 minutes. Turn chops; cover and cook until firm but not hard when pressed with a finger, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer chops to a plate; set aside in a warm spot while preparing sauce.
  4. Keep heat at medium. Add water, honey, and ground ginger to skillet with the pork chops cooking juices, heat to a simmer, stirring, until integrated. Add cherries and continue simmering until cherries soften.
  5. Turn off heat, give cornstarch slurry a stir to suspend in water. Pour into saucepan and stir into cherry sauce mixture before turning heat back on to medium-low. Stir until thickened. Pour over pork chops and serve.

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