With each day, I am reminded of our fading spring weather and the thought that many of you are still coping with winter like conditions. And for some of you the season is actually reversing. Our spring has a short life down here, in fact, many would say it is already over. Although we cannot wear white linen pants yet, not until after Easter are we allowed, khaki and tan chinos are our cool ‘go to’ fabrics we enjoy with temperature most days now reaching into the high 80’s. (Some say the bad manners comes from wearing white shoes before Easter and after Labor Day, but a true southerner knows the difference.) The trees have changed to all shades of green and splotches of bright colored perennials are in full bloom everywhere. This reminds us, along with an occasional mosquito bite, that summer is just around the corner. Yes, it is a maddening time in the south waiting on summer. We tend to think up the darnedest of things.
|bearded iris from neighbor’s yard|
There are other indications too of our waning spring; the hum of lawn mowers, BBQ grills producing mouth-watering aromas, the yearning for citrus cold drinks, anticipation of farmer’s market openings and pork chops going on sale. Now wait a minute you say, what the heck do chops on sale have anything in the world to do with spring or the yearning of lazy summer days. Well, I will tell you. Like the crazy uncle every family has hiding in the woodshed, every family has a secret that someone is just bursting at the bit to let out. This recipe reminds me of just that, one that we like from time to time and one that wakes the taste sensations no matter what the season. And when chops go on sale, we go crazy thinking of new ways to eat ’em up.
This is a recipe that begins with an inexpensive humble pork chop, marinated to infused barbecue flavors and then southern fried before being topped with a caramelized sweet onion and apple pear gravy. Now that’s good eating folks, a real prize and I am glad to let this secret out of the woodshed, so to speak.
Marinated Fried Pork Chops
with Sweet Onion Apple Pear Gravy
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
|great gravy beginnings|
2 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
4 to 6 bone-in pork chops, about 3/4-inch thick
4 strips thick-sliced black peppered bacon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon butter
1 crisp apple, thinly sliced
1 crisp pear, thinly sliced
3 bay leaves
|sweet onion apple pear gravy|
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups chicken broth. divided
In a large sealable bag or glass dish, combine the first 4 ingredients mixing to dissolve and add the pork chops. Add just enough water to cover meat. Seal bag forcing out as much air as possible. Massage to distribute the marinade. Refrigerate for 4 hours rotating after half the time.
Remove chops and discard the marinade. Blot the chops dry with paper towels. Sprinkle flour lightly on the top of the chops and rub to coat.
In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium high heat until brown on both sides. Remove bacon to paper towels leaving grease in the skillet (or wipe clean if desired).
Add the olive oil to the skillet and heat over medium high, add chops flour side down cooking about 4 minutes or until brown. Dust the top with flour and turn chops over to brown the other side. You probably will have to cook chops in two batches. Remove chops to a pan and place in oven on warm setting.
In a medium saute pan, stir butter over medium high heat. When melted add onion and garlic stirring to coat, reduce heat to medium low. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Place apple, pear slices and bacon on top. Place bay leaves in the mixture and simmer for 10 minutes to caramelize the onions. The sugars from the fruit will help sweeten the onions even more. Add 1/2 cup chicken stock to the pan and simmer another 20 minutes, do not let mixture dry out. Discard apple and pear slices. Do as you please with the bacon!
In a small bowl, mix the dry sherry with a good teaspoon of flour. Whisk in the vinegar and 1 cup chicken broth. Add the onion mixture to the skillet along with the sherry liquid and simmer over medium heat until bubbly. Stir into a saucy gravy thickened to your liking.
Place chops on top of gravy if desired and cover to hold before serving or plate chops and spoon gravy on top. Great served with rice.