“Pork chops and applesauce. That’s schwell.”
Sorry, I just had to indulge in some ‘70s nostalgia!
These aren’t Peter Brady’s pork chops. But he had the right idea. Pork and fruit have a real affinity for one another. Pork chops and applesauce are the traditional combination, and a good one.
But to be honest, that wasn’t what I was thinking when I went to the store. On the Cooking Channel (yes, I admit it, I’m obsessed with food), I’d seen the host of French Food at Home cook pork chops with olives and preserved lemons. But apparently Whole Foods doesn’t carry preserved lemons. Or at least mine doesn’t.
Preserved lemons are made by pickling lemons in salt and their own juices. You see them a lot in Moroccan cooking. You can make preserved lemons at home, but they have to sit for at least three weeks before they’re ready to use.
In the meantime, there was that evening’s dinner to think about. I knew that pork takes well to all kinds of fruit. In the past I’ve made pork chops with a fig and port sauce and also with a pinot noir and cranberry sauce, and both were quite good. But I didn’t have a recipe with me and I knew I was going to be pressed for time that evening. So I grabbed a jar of black cherry preserves and hoped for the best.
I mixed and matched the method and ingredients from a few different recipes and ended up with what turned out to be one of the easiest and most delicious pan sauces I’ve made. The recipe didn’t require any deglazing of the pan or thickening of the sauce. Other than the cherry preserves, the only other major ingredient in the sauce was balsamic vinegar, which I always have on hand.
The black cherry preserves gave the sauce a fruity sweetness. And the pectin in the preserves helped thicken the sauce without the need for any added butter. The balsamic vinegar, which is both sweet and sour, provided a tanginess that balanced the sweetness of the preserves. And the black pepper gave it a little heat.
And the pork chops? They were schwell.
Take the pork chops out of the fridge and let them sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Sear the pork chops for a few minutes on each side until they are a dark golden brown. When you’re searing meat, try not to move it when you first put it down in the hot pan. As it browns, it will loosen and become easy to move. If you try to move it and it sticks, that probably means it needs another minute to properly brown.
Once the pork chops are browned on both sides, place the cover on the pan and stick it in the oven. If your pan isn’t ovenproof, you can transfer the chops to an oven-safe baking dish and cover them with aluminum foil while they bake. It should take about 10-12 minutes for the pork chops to cook through. While the pork chops cook, they will release some liquid that will become part of the delicious pan sauce.
Remove the pan from the oven (use an oven mitt!). Put the pork chops on a plate and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Add the black cherry preserves, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to the juices in the pan. Whisk everything together for a few minutes until the preserves dissolve. (The sauce will thicken as it stands.) If the pork chops have released any liquid into the plate, add it to the pan sauce.
Pour the sauce over the pork chops and serve!
Pork Chops with Black Cherry Balsamic Pan Sauce
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 bone-in pork chops
10 oz black cherry preserves (you can also use regular cherry or any other berry preserves)
1 ½ Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. Add oil to a pan set over medium-high heat. Sear the pork chops for 3 minutes on each side until they are a deep golden brown. Place the cover on the pan and place them in the oven for 10-12 minutes until they are cooked through.
3. Remove the pan from the oven. Put the pork chops on a plate and cover them with aluminum foil to keep warm.
4. Add the black cherry preserves, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to the pan juices. Whisk over medium-low heat for a few minutes until the preserves melt into the sauce. Add any juices that the pork chops have released on the plate.
5. Spoon the pan sauce over the pork chops and serve.