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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mustard Pork Chops and White Caramel Pears

My friend Hilary was in Charlotte for work this week, so I wanted to make her a special dinner. I picked one of my favorite fall recipes from the Nigella Express cookbook. One of the reasons I'm so fond of this is that the book came out during my London stint three years ago, and I caught a few evening TV episodes of Nigella preparing some of the recipes. I cooked this for the first time in my tiny little flat in Canary Wharf. I love dishes that bring back fond memories! 
Mustard Pork Chops by Nigella Lawson in Nigella Express

2 pork chops, about 1 lb. total weight (you can use boneless or bone-in)
2 teaspoons garlic oil
1/2 cup hard cider
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
1/3 cup heavy cream

1. Cut the fat off the chops, and then bash them briefly but brutally with a rolling pin between two pieces of plastic wrap to make them thinner.
2. Heat the oil in a pan, and then cook the chops over a moderately high heat for about 5 minutes per side. Remove them to a warmed plate.
3. Pour the cider into the pan, still over the heat, to deglaze the pan. Let it bubble away for a minute or so, then add the mustard and stir in the cream.
4. Let the sauce continue cooking for a few minutes before pouring over each plated pork chop. If you're having gnocchi with, make sure you turn them in the pan to absorb any spare juices before adding them to your plate.

Serves 2
A few notes: I often skip Step 1 and just cook the thicker chops a bit longer. Since I didn't have any garlic oil, I used olive oil and then added some garlic to the pan for a few seconds after I removed the chops and before I deglazed the hot pan with the cider. Buying the proper cider is a bit tricky. I've always used hard cider, though it might work just as well with the alcohol-free kind. The most readily available brands of hard cider are Harpoon and Wood Chuck, but they are too diluted for this. So, I will use an entire 12 oz. bottle and boil it long enough to reduce it to 1/2 cup to concentrate the flavor. You will probably have to buy a six-pack, but then you have something to drink with your dinner!

If you keep the cider in your fridge and the gnocchi in your pantry, this is an easy staple for your weeknight dinner rotation. I purchased a four-pack of chops and thought it easily served four.

For a side, I served the roasted butternut squash salad I posted a few weeks ago.

Dessert was baked pears with White Caramel Sauce, a recipe I have saved from Southern Living since 1999 because it is that good! As the magazine said: After every bite of Poached Pears with White Caramel Sauce is devoured, you'll secretly wish to lick the plate.
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 1/3 cups whipping cream
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter or margarine

Cook sugar and 1/3 cup water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, about 15 minutes or until reduced to 6 tablespoons.

Add whipping cream and vanilla. (Mixture will be lumpy.) Cook over medium heat, stirring often, 15 minutes or until reduced to 1 cup. Remove from heat. Stir in butter. Cover.
Notes: You must have a very heavy small saucepan for this to work. The sauce can be made a day ahead and refrigerated. Pears can either be poached or baked; the point is just to warm and soften them. Before you begin, measure 6 tablespoons of water into your saucepan and notice what it looks like. Pour it out and do the same thing with one cup of water. This will help you know when the mixtures have reduced appropriately in your saucepan.

And yes, I did lick my plate!

1 comment:

Dee Stephens said...

looks good to me but I'm wondering if Brad would like it?