Now a bit of a disclaimer- I have realized, this summer- that I really do love all of the seasons. I've had issues with summer in the past because I really just do not love extremely hot weather, but somehow, this summer, I've loved every minute (almost) of it. So as much fun as I've been having this summer, I am not shy to admit- I am truly looking forward to fall. A crisp day filled with hot cider, a pumpkin muffin, or sauce, or what not, and leaf peeping sounds just about perfect to me. I think that I might have gotten a little carried away earlier this week, and let my imagination run wild when coming up with a definite fall inspired dish- pork chops topped with a cranberry and almond "crumble".
This all began because I tend to tire of my "normal" dinner- especially when John isn't around for dinner, of salad with a protein cooked in my grill pan with light seasonings and then sliced over the top. Don't get me wrong- I love this dinner. It allows me to be creative with my vegetable combination, and the dressing I make- but sometimes I like to mix it up also. So with John home this week, and his severe dislike of my grill pan- I got to work on a pork chop dish I could throw into the oven.
I started by chopping some slivered almonds into small pieces, and then doing the same with some dried cranberries. In a small bowl I combined a tablespoon and a half of Dijon mustard, and a teaspoon-give or take of maple syrup. My advice here- add the syrup slowly-I wanted the crumble to have a maple flavor but not be super sweet. So combine and taste as you go. Once I had a nice flavor to the binder, I added just a pinch of salt, and a turn or two of fresh ground pepper, then I folded in the chopped almonds and cranberries so they were lightly covered with the maple Dijon dressing. I also added just a tablespoon of shredded cheddar cheese.
While I was completing this section, I was also heating a pan with just a tablespoon of vegetable oil on the stove top, and heating the oven to 375 degrees. When the oil was nice and hot, I placed two pork chops in the pan, lightly dusted with salt and pepper. I turned them after about 4 minutes or so, and then once both sides had lightly browned I pulled them from the heat, and added the crumble on top of the chops. Then I placed these into the oven for about 20 minutes-this will depend of course on the size of your chops. Mine were medium size, boneless.
While these baked I made up a quick salad of greens, snow peas, red onion, red and green bell pepper, a little avocado on mine, and an easy dressing with Dijon mustard (see a trend?), white wine vinegar, a tiny bit of mayo, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Easy easy.
The pork chops came out of the oven and were really pretty looking. The red from the cranberries with the cream from the almonds was really lovely looking. This was one of those dinners that I really wondered about when I was making it. In my head, it sounded interesting and fun, but I had a little doubt about it's end product. Once tasting it a few times- I really loved this! The Dijon mustard combined with the fresh black pepper provided a really healthy kick to to the topping, but it was immediately soothed by the sweat tart nature of the cranberries, and even the sharp cheddar. I did enjoy that the crumble didn't encase the chops as well- as it ended up being a nice relief from the strong flavors.
I can tell I will be experimenting with this type of topping more in the coming months, especially as it gets cooler and I don't detest turning on my oven quite so much.
This did get me thinking though- what are the greatest and worst risks you've ever taken with your cooking?