December 20, 2010

Pork Chops with Cranberry-Maple Sauce

A few nights ago, I tried out three new recipes on the same evening:  a main dish with pork chops, a potato dish and a vegetable side.  I'd written up the main and vegetable dishes a week or so earlier, but had put off making them for a bit due to my being in a pizza mood, while I came up with the third recipe on the spot.  I'm happy to report that all three turned out well, each standing on its own and the three going together nicely.   I'll be presenting each in separate posts.  First up:  the main dish.

Pork chops and fruit sauces are a great combination.  Lots of different fruits go well with pork:  apples, oranges, pears and pineapple are all common choices.  Pork also goes well with my favorite winter fruit, cranberries.  In designing this recipe, I wanted something more than just fruity flavor, though.  Juli suggested maple, so I went with that.  Once that decision was made, I knew butter, garlic, ginger and rosemary would add some savory flavor to balance the sweetness of the maple and the tartness of the cranberries.  Juli suggested adding some sweet shallots to the mix, and though I'd initially thought of basing the sauce on either wine or chicken broth, I ultimately decided hard cider was a better choice, reflecting the fruit flavor of the berries and the warmth of the ginger.

The result:  Pretty much excellent.  Tender, flavorful chops with a savory, fruity sauce.  The different flavors blended perfectly, and the sauce perfectly complemented the chops.  But, always, I urge you to not just take my word for it, but try it out for yourself.

Pork Chops with Cranberry-Maple Sauce

yield = 3 servings

6       thin, boneless, center-cut pork loin chops (3-4 ounces each)
         salt and pepper to taste
1       teaspoon butter
2       large shallots, thinly-sliced
2       teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1       teaspoons minced garlic
1       sprig fresh rosemary
1       cup fresh cranberries
1       cup hard cider
1/3    cup maple syrup

Trim chops of excess fat.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

Melt butter over medium heat, then add shallots and cook 3-4 minutes.  Add chops and cook until lightly browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. 

Add ginger and garlic, cook 1 minute, then add rosemary sprig and cranberries.  Cook 1 minute, then add hard cider.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or until most of the liquid is cooked off. 

Transfer chops to a serving plate, remove and discard the rosemary sprig and add the maple syrup.  Cook until thickened.   Serve the chops topped with the sauce.

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