Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pork chops with Pumpkin Cider sauce, and Arugula Gremolata salad makes another appearance

Though I say it about almost every season, I think that Fall really is my favorite. Everything about it just wonderful- orange pumpkins decorating the window boxes and stoops, mums are out, apples everywhere, the kid like charm of running through freshly fallen leaves...its just wonderful. The flavors of this season are some of my very favorites as well (so much so I tend to use them far into winter as well...shhhhh). Last night was one of those beautifully crisp days that lets you know that winter is on its way- and therefore to me- it was a perfect day to make a dinner to celebrate October.
I was in a "foreign" kitchen last night so I neglected to take as many photos as usual- so the final product will have to do :-). I decided to make pork chops, with a sauce for a tribute to the season, and serve with a salad that to me really encompasses the season. The salad that I made is actually one that I've made several times- Arugula with a Gremolata dressing (http://abostonfooddiary.blogspot.com/2008/11/chicken-and-arugula-salad-with.html) -for last night I just omitted the chicken.
Having a tried and true salad in the bag, I got to concentrate heavily on the main course. I had found some really beautiful boneless pork chops in the grocery store, and had picked them up with sage, garlic, and was happy to find a whole shelf full of wonderful canned pumpkin (what pumpkin shortage??). I also made sure I had some of my favorite hard cider on hand-Strongbow.
My first task back in the kitchen was to chop a couple of cloves of garlic, several leaves of sage and mash them together in a bowl with a little kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. I rubbed this mixture onto the pork chops, placed them in a Ziploc bag, and then covered them with about half a can of Strongbow. I removed any air from the bag and then let them marinate in the fridge while I made the salad.
After they had marinated for about 20 minutes or so, I heated a skillet pan on the stove top with just about a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil. I also preheated the oven to 400 degrees. Once the pan was at a hot enough level-I added the pork chops for them to sear. Once both sides had gotten a nice golden brown to them, I transferred the pan to the oven for them to finish cooking. Then I turned my attention to a sauce I wanted to make.
I melted about a teaspoon of butter into a sauce pan, and added two cloves of chopped garlic, several leaves of chopped sage, a pinch of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. After those flavors had nicely melded I added a handful of dried cranberries and at the same time, another half a can or so of Strongbow cider to the pot, and then set it to boil and reduce. Once the cider had reduced significantly, and the flavors were becoming really nice and concentrated, I stirred in about a half a can of pumpkin. This added as a really nice thickener to the sauce, and again boosted that fall flavor thing. It also made a really pretty color. I allowed that to simmer for a few minutes, and then tasted it again- added a bit more chopped sage, and a little less than half a teaspoon of butter to round out the flavors, and the sauce was complete.
The pork chops finished in the oven, and I was able to serve a plate with a generous serving of salad, and a beautiful pork chop covered in Pumpkin Cider sauce. The sauce had some really amazing flavor to it-each element really played well off of each other. The sage had that wonderful earthy flavor to it, pared with the pumpkin that has its own wonderful flavor, and adds a really nice creaminess when used. The cider added the sweet side, and it was really played off well with the tart cranberries. The flavors of that sauce were fantastic- and echoed really nicely with the flavors of the pork chop.
The salad was a good accompaniment in that it added a certain level acidity with the Gremolata dressing that was missing in the main dish, as well as the differing textures.
All together, we agreed, that this was a great fall dish. Each of the different flavors of the season were nicely portrayed in a delicious and easy dish. The part that I really loved about this was that it really wasn't at all time consuming. Each piece of it could be done as another piece was marinating/cooking/melding and it just made for a super simple, filling, and tasty week night meal.

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