Pork Chops with Cherry-Rhubarb Sauce

When we think about rhubarb, it’s all too easy to get bogged down in thinking of it used strictly in sweet ways; in pies, jams, or in compotes.  The fact is, there are plenty of opportunities to use rhubarb in more savory applications, as well. Since my first taste of spicy rhubarb salsa (I posted about this earlier in the week), I imagined swiping forkfuls of  fatty pork chop through the sweet/tart mixture. It’s a flavor combination that works on the same principle as eating a slice of cheddar cheese with your apple pie, or more closely, to having a side of chilled applesauce with your garlic-studded pork roast. The tartness from the rhubarb and cherry compote perfectly complements the pork, with just a hint of savory onion in the background. It’s magical stuff, that I can imagine spooning onto pork (as below) or onto skillet-browned chicken breasts. Enjoy.

Pork Chops with Cherry-Rhubarb Sauce
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 8 to 10 ounces rhubarb, ends trimmed, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces (2 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 4 pork loin chops, (each 1/2 inch thick and 6 to 8 ounces)

 Method:

  1. Combine cherries, vinegar, and 1/4 cup very hot water in a small bowl. Set aside and let soften for ten minutes.
  2. In a small saucepan or skillet, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent, about ten minutes.
  3. Add cherry mixture, rhubarb, and sugar, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until rhubarb has softened, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add nutmeg, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover and remove from heat.
  4. Season both sides of pork chop generously with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat remaining oil over medium heat. Cook pork until browned and cooked through, 3-4 minutes per side. Top with warm sauce and serve.

Malcolm Bedell is co-author of the critically acclaimed "Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road," as well as the junk food blog "Spork & Barrel," and "Brocavore," a blog about food trucks and street food culture. His contributions include Serious Eats, Down East, Eat Rockland, L.A. Weekly, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post and his food truck, "'Wich, Please," was named "Hottest Restaurant in Maine" for 2015 by Eater. Finally, he finds it very silly to be trying to write this in the third person.

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