Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tastes of Fall

Remember those apples I bought several weeks ago in order to make the tarte tatin? Well, it turns out that a quarter of a peck - see the bag above - goes a lot further than I realized it would. I made a second tarte - handily, sheets of puff pastry are sold in boxes of two - and still had some apples left. So, my brain turned to other options.

My feet and senses had come across the stand selling apple cider at the Greenmarket. That, and some leftover herbs from another cooking project, made me decide to try my hand at creating a dish which would bring together the best of fall's flavors and foods into something solid and comforting. The other aspect of this recipe is that this lets me showcase some of the flavors of my home state, Virginia, which has been much-talked about lately due to the upcoming Presidential election.


The sweet-tart apple slices form a base around the pork chop. Then, brandy and apple cider come together with cream for a luscious sauce perfumed with fresh sage to wrap around it all in a warm embrace. Paired with a chilled chardonnay, this is a hearty comfort-style dish meant to wrap up a crisp-cool autumn day spent trouncing through fallen leaves and taking walks in the woods, inhaling the smells of the season.

Pork and Apples with Apple-Brandy-Sage Cream Sauce

Prep Time: 30 to 45 minutes

Serving Size: for 2 adults, but can easily be expanded to feed more

Ingredients:
2 pork loin chops
2 apples (like Jonagold, Macoun, MacIntosh), peeled, cored and cut into 1/8-inch slices
1 tsp cooking oil or bacon grease (if you are *really* from Virginia, this is in a can in the back of your fridge)
1 tsp butter
1 shot brandy
1/3 c. unfiltered apple cider (non-alcoholic)
1/4 c. heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp minced fresh sage
salt
pepper

Assembly:
Heat cooking oil or bacon grease in skillet. Put pork chops in pan and sear on each side (about 2-3 minutes per side). Put on plate and place in oven to keep warm.

Add butter to pan and place apples in a single layer. Cook until they have browned slightly on each side. Set aside. Remove pan from the heat and pour in one shot of brandy. Add apple cider and return to heat. Mix in a pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper, and 1 tsp of the minced sage. Scrap off any bits that might have stuck to the pan. Cook liquid until reduced by one-half.

Add cream, stir ingredients together, and simmer until the mixture becomes thickened, about 5 minutes. Put the apples in a circle on the plate, letting them overlap. Place pork on top of apples. Pour cream sauce on top of pork and let it drip onto the apples. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 tsp of sage on top of dish.

Buon appetito!

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