Moving has caused me to miss the things that make autumn my favorite season. I haven’t been to Apple Hill, just a few miles away in Camino where everything turns to apples from September through December. They sell everything you can think of making with apples from apple cider doughnuts, fritters, and cider to pie. I haven’t gone to the gold country towns of Jackson, Amador City, and Sutter Creek to takes fall foliage pictures and visit the antique shops. The closest thing to autumn I have done is ordered a pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks, a decision I regretted to moment I drove away.
Today I felt pressured into making a great meal. I have had two dismal failures the last two nights and I needed a win. Thursday night I made chicken pot pies which should have landed me in jail. Yesterday I made chili that had a weird citrus taste due to my buying a chili powder blend instead of the real deal. In an effort to correct the problem, I made it too spicy to eat without chugging Maalox in between bites. I was 0 for 2 and not feeling good about myself. Upon leaving the old house after dropping Michael off today I encountered an accident on the road. It didn’t appear that anyone was seriously injured but one of the cars was in the middle of the road and didn’t look drivable. I decided for everyone’s safety I would call it in to 911, another decision I would live to regret. During the time they interrogated me on the phone I thought about what I would make for my redemption dinner. I finally ended the call when they wouldn’t accept that I was unable to tell them the make and models of the cars involved in the accident. I think that reporting an accident via cell phone may be a crime in California. At least I felt like a criminal. Eventually someone responded because I saw a CHP car pull out of our road when I was driving home. They were probably looking for me!
Anyway, while waiting to be transferred from one operator to a dispatcher I decided to make pork chops with some kind of autumnal sauce. While juggling my shopping cart through the throngs of Saturday shoppers, I put together a meal of pork chops, homemade applesauce, brown rice and haricot vert. I would make a sauce to go with the pork chops consisting of pomegranate juice, boiled cider, stoneground mustard and chipotle paste. I picked out to bone-in loin chops and everything else I needed and headed for home.
The cooking is done now as is the eating. I am happy to say that I am out of my slump! If Guy Fieri ate this meal he would have declared it a winner-winner pork chop dinner! The sauce was sweet, tangy and spicy all at the same time. The homemade applesauce was the bomb. Michael is not a big fan of pork chops but he declared my sauce the “way to make a pork chop taste good.” Let me tell you how I did it.
NOTE: Boiled cider is just apple cider that has been cooked and concentrated until thick and syrupy like molasses. In fact, in olden times it was often referred to as apple molasses. You can easily find instructions how to make it online but I confess that I bought mine from King Arthur Flour, also online. Next year, when I can enjoy autumn in all its glory, I might make my own.
- For the sauce:
- 8 oz pure pomegranate juice
- ⅓ cup boiled cider * (see note at bottom)
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp chipotle paste
- 2 tsp stoneground mustard
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 TBS cornstarch in ¼ cup cold water
- For the pork chops:
- 2 bone-in loin pork chops
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 3 TBS olive oil
- 1 TBS butter
- For the applesauce:
- 5 Fuji apples, peeled, cored and sliced
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- For the sides:
- Green beans or haricot vert, cooked and seasoned
- Brown rice, cooked
- Make the sauce by combining the pomegranate juice, boiled cider, chipotle paste, salt, brown sugar, and mustard in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat until reduced by half. Taste the sauce. If the flavors are too strong add a little more juice or water and cook again until reduced. If the sauce is not thick enough add the cornstarch in water a little at a time then bringing to a full boil until the sauce is the desired consistency. If you like a sweeter sauce try adding a little granulated sugar.
- To make the applesauce, place the prepared apples in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer until the apples become soft and break down. Pour off most of the water and add the granulated sugar and return to a boil until the sugar is melted. We like ours chunky but you can also puree the cooked apples in a food processor if you like a smooth applesauce. Chill until ready to serve.
- To cook the chops heat the oil and butter in a sauté pan until very hot but don’t allow the butter to brown yet. Season the cops with salt and pepper. Place the chops into the hot oil and saute on each side until golden brown and very slightly pink in the center, or to a temperature of 145 degrees in the center. Allow the chops to rest for five minutes before serving. Serve the chops atop the sauce with the green beans, brown rice and applesauce on the side. You’ll feel like you are enjoying the very best of autumn!