WINE WITH…Pork Chops with Bourbon Applesauce
Pork and apples bring out the best in each other. Perhaps one reason they work so well together is that the juiciness of the fruit offers a tasty antidote to the relative dryness of today’s generally low-fat pork. But there is also an undeniable flavor partnership between the two--and so
many different ways to bring that symbiosis out! Top pan-seared pork chops with sautéed apple slices and caramelized onions, for example, surround a roasted pork tenderloin with small baked apples, or stuff a pork loin roast with chunky, honeyed apples. We also love pork chops garnished with apples, cream and Calvados, or accompanied by apples simmered in red wine. And here’s one more evocative variation on that theme: pork chops paired with bourbon applesauce. One reason we like this happy gastronomic relationship is that that when the whisky’s oaky flavors mesh with sweet-tart apples and meaty pork the distinctive synthesis is wonderfully compatible with certain wines.
Pork Chops With Bourbon Applesauce
The advantage of using two different types of apples is that different ones break down at different rates. One variety inevitably will become soft and “saucy” while the other will add desirable textural interest by holding its shape longer. Try these combinations: Cortland and Jonathan, McIntosh and Winesap, or Honeycrisp and Granny Smith. And note that this applesauce is more savory than sweet.
The applesauce can be made a day ahead and gently reheated before serving. You can omit the butter when cooking the pork chops if you wish, but that lush, buttery flavor adds both texture and taste to the dish.
For the Applesauce:
2 apples, ideally different types
2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 cup bourbon
For the Pork Chops:
4 boneless pork chops, about 1-inch thick each
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup white wine
To make the applesauce, cut the apples in quarters, peel and core them and chop them into 1-2 inch pieces. Put them in a saucepan with the water and stir in the cumin and cayenne. Cover the pan, and simmer the apples for 10 minutes, stirring frequently and adding more water if needed to keep them from sticking. Stir in the bourbon and continue cooking for another five minutes or so, stirring frequently, until the mixture is very soft but still lumpy. If you want to make the mixture softer mash it with a fork or a potato masher.
To cook the pork chops, salt and pepper them generously, preferably 10-30 minutes before cooking. Place a cast iron or other sturdy skillet over high heat. Blot the chops dry on both sides with a paper towel. Add the oil to the skillet, and when it is hot enough to begin filming over, add the butter. When the butter foams add the chops and sear them until they are nicely browned, about 4 minutes on each side. Remove the chops and add the wine to the skillet. Cook over high heat, stirring constantly, until the liquid is very dark and reduced to about a third. Turn the heat to low then add the chops to the pan, swishing them around the pan to thoroughly coat both sides with the jus. Serve immediately, nestling them next to a mound of applesauce.
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This dish pairs well with both red and white wines (rosés too), so will satisfy even the pickiest wine drinker. If opting for a red, choose one with juicy flavors but a soft, silky texture. And if going for whites, look for wines that don’t taste too tart. The dish, which has subtle sweet notes from the bourbon and apples, likes wines that themselves carry some sweetness, so don’t make the mistake of thinking that you need to open something that is bone-dry.