Sweeten up pork chops

Published: Wednesday, July 17, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com)
Skillet-Fried Pork Chops With Apricot Glaze is just one of the many pork and fruit combinations Grace has tried over the years. This one ranks as one of her favorites.

One of my favorite foods is pork. Pork chops, to be exact.

I like my chops a little fruity and my salads a little nutty, which seems to be the latest trend. 

The best thing about pork right now is the price – it's often cheaper than ground beef. Oh, for the return of hamburger that was 5 pounds for $1. Yes, I know, that was a long time ago, but I swear it is the truth.

I bought two nice, lean, pork tenderloins this week for $2.39 a pound. No fat and no bones. For that price, you could grind it up and make your own hamburger. 

Skillet-Fried Pork Chops With Apricot Glaze is one of my favorite pork recipes. I have tried several variations in order to use different fruits. Others I have tried include apples, peaches, pineapples, and pears.

I know many of you are fond of recipes with fruit, such as the cranberries or cranberry sauce with meatballs. The appetizer version of that dish has remained popular over the years, especially around the holidays, because of its pretty color and sassy taste. The idea of combining the sweet fruit and the hearty flavor of the meat has become very popular. People are always looking for new tastes and unusual food combinations.

Several years ago, I wrote an article about a young lady in the area who entered a cooking contest and won a trip to New York, where she met with several of the world's finest cooks. The contest called for coming up with a new recipe, combining the most unusual and unlikely ingredients. If I remember correctly, she combined tuna and chocolate for the winning entry. 

I can't recall her name, but it sure would be fun to see what she is doing now. So, if you know her, pass it on.

Fresh and canned fruits work well in this recipe. Just be careful to drain the canned fruits and go easy on the juice, just add a little when needed.

You can easily switch to peaches from apricots in this tasty and easy skillet pork chop recipe. Fresh apricots work well in this dish, but if you use canned, cut back on the maple syrup or brown sugar.

Skillet-Fried Pork Chops With Apricot Glaze

4 1-inch-thick boneless pork chops

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup dry white wine or a blush wine

4 green onions, sliced

1 cup diced apricots

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons maple syrup or brown sugar, or to taste

Sprinkle pork chops with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add pork chops and brown for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Add chicken broth and wine. Simmer briskly for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add green onions, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add apricots, lemon juice, and maple syrup. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes longer.

Cranberry Pork Chops

Add a little zip to your chops: Cranberry sauce adds flavor and texture to these easy, tangy pork chops.

Serves: 4 to 6

4 to 6 pork chops

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion, sliced

1 can (15 ounces) whole cranberry sauce

1/3 cup ketchup

1/4 cup water

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon mustard

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

Dash of cinnamon

2 tablespoons cornstarch

3 tablespoons cold water

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, sear the pork chops in oil, turning to brown both sides. Add sliced onion and continue cooking for 1 minute. Combine cranberry sauce, ketchup, 1/4 cup water, vinegar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and pepper in a bowl; pour over chops. Cover and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on thickness of chops, until tender. Combine 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 3 tablespoons cold water, stirring until smooth. Gently stir into the pork chop mixture, cooking and stirring until thickened.

Stuffed Pork Chops With Dried Cherries and Apples

Feel free to use dried cranberries instead of the dried cherries.

4 thick center-cut pork chops, at least 1 1/4-inch thick

6 tablespoons butter

1 rib celery, minced

1/2 medium onion, minced

1/2 small carrot, minced, optional

1 cup diced apple

1/2 cup chopped dried tart cherries, about 2 1/2 ounces

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon each dried crumbled sage, rosemary, and thyme

Dash celery seed

2 cups soft bread crumbs

1 egg

Mixture of 1/4 cup marmalade and 1 teaspoon brown mustard, optional

Heat butter over medium-low heat; add celery, onion, and carrot. Saute, stirring, for 4 minutes. Add apple and cherries. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 8 to 10 minutes, until apple and vegetables are tender. Stir in the salt, pepper, herbs, and celery seed. In a bowl, combine the mixture with the bread crumbs. Add 1/4 cup chicken broth to moisten. Taste and adjust seasonings. Whisk egg in a cup or small bowl; stir into the bread crumb mixture. Set aside or refrigerate.

Cutting into the side opposite the bone, cutting to the bone, make pockets in chops; stuff each chop evenly with stuffing mixture. Heat the skillet over medium-high heat with a teaspoon or two of olive oil. Sear chops for about 2 to 4 minutes, turn carefully, then sear the other side. Put any remaining stuffing under the chops in the skillet, cover, then place in a 350-degree oven for 1 hour. If desired, brush the chops with the optional marmalade and mustard mixture then bake for 5 to 10 minutes longer.

Tip of the week: Don't throw away the sweet pickle juice. Buy a can of beets, drain, add to pickle juice, for pickled beets. 

Readers corner

Attention all you strawberry lovers! I asked you last week to gather your best strawberry recipes and send them to me, by mail, email, or Pony Express. You can even call me at 563-249-5725.

I have been off work for a short while and would like to get back in touch. If we have enough response, maybe we could have a little get-together to exchange recipes like we did for the apron party. Wasn't that fun?

So far, I have had no response to the strawberries. We would need to move fast, though, the strawberries will not be in the fields forever.

Contact me if you are interested. If I do not answer, leave a message and I will return the call.

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