Monday, January 18, 2010

Spiced Cider Pork Chops

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Over the holidays, I like to do hot spiced apple cider on chilly evenings. I did just that one evening when we had a friend of our daughter joining us for dinner. I put it in one of those air pots that will keep it hot for hours. I just used a mulling spice mix I picked up at the supermarket.

I had a good bit left over and stuck it in the refrigerator for another time. Then the "big chill" came. We had a week of temperatures that never went higher than the 20's. And in Memphis, that's COLD! I had a day off. Rather than bundling up to go to the grocery for dinner makings, I dug around in freezer and fridge, and found a package of butterflied pork chops, and some frozen skinny green beans, and one giant sweet potato. And then there was the spiced cider.

I braised the pork chops and sweet potatoes in the cider. I blanched the green beans and then tossed them in good French butter with a little garlic simmered in it. We had a great meal, and I got to stay warm and cozy in the house.

If you happen to have spiced cider on hand, that’s all well and good. But I’m guessing that you don’t, so I’ve given you a way to replicate the flavor without it. This seems to me to be definitely chilly weather food, but I’m pretty sure we’ll have some more coming before the warm spring winds blow.


1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
4 pork chops, about ¾" thick (boneless or not, your choice)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 large pinch each ground nutmeg and cloves
1 1/2 lb. sweet potato, cut into largish chunks
1 1/2 cups apple cider or apple juice
1/2 cup orange juice (optional)

In a plastic bag, mix the flour, salt and pepper. Add the chops one at a time and shake to coat evenly.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Brown the chops well on both sides and remove to a platter. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent. Add the spices and stir for another minute or two.

Place the sweet potato in one layer over the onion mixture. Lay the pork shops on top. Pour the apple and orange juice (if using) over it all, cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until chops are done and potatoes are tender, 20-25 minutes. Remove the cover and let the juices reduce for about 5 minutes. Serves 4.

NOTE: If you have leftover potatoes, but not pork chops, which was my case, whirl them with the pan juices in a food processor. Add chicken or vegetable stock to thin if necessary and serve it as soup the next day. You might stir in a spoonful or two of sour or heavy cream if you have it, but it’ll be good without it.

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