When I think of pork chops, I can’t help but recall a classic Brady Bunch episode in which “pork chops and applesauce” was the catch phrase du jour as Peter repeated it (all-too-much, evidently) in a Bogart-esque accent, when he heard it was on the family’s dinner menu. Then housekeeper Alice and mom got in on the act—and it’s been seared on my memory, fighting for space with Gilligan scenarios, waiting to pop up at moments like this. Since it’s rather lean, pork, “the other white meat,” can benefit from a sauce as much as chicken, and fruit always is a tasty complement.
This recipe brings the pork and fruit combo a few decades forward with a tangy pear chutney. According to Regina Schrambling, who developed this recipe for Real Food, the chutney’s sprightly flavor and chunky texture play off the robust but delicately flavored meat. Plus, it’s a great time to enjoy pears since they’re in season. While we’re used to seeing pears throughout the year, it’s always great to make the most of this delicious fruit when at its peak.
Note that pears aren’t ripened on the tree, so plan ahead. Buy firm ones with no bruises and store them in a brown paper bag at room temperature until the stem end gives slightly when you press it gently. The best pears for cooking are the firmest varieties, particularly Bosc, but none of the many varieties will disappoint.
“Pork chops and pear chutney” may not have the same ring to the ear, but it will hopefully be more pleasing to the palate.
Seared Pork Chops with Pear Chutney
2 large firm but ripe pears, peeled and cored
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
½ c. sugar
½ c. apple cider vinegar
3 small jalapeños, peeled, seeded, and finely diced
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh ginger
¼ c. raisins
½ tsp. mustard seed
1 1-inch piece cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
4 allspice berries
½ tsp. kosher salt
4 pork chops, about 1 inch thick
1 Tbsp. olive oil
To make the chutney, cut each pear lengthwise into eighths, then crosswise into thin slices. Toss with lemon juice and set aside. Combine sugar and vinegar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Stir in jalapeños, ginger, raisins, and mustard seed. Tie cinnamon stick, cloves, and allspice into a small cheesecloth bag and add to pan. Add salt and mix well. Add pears and mix well. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until pears are soft and liquid is very thick and syrupy, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat. Discard spice bag.
Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Brush each chop on both sides with olive oil and season well with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Place chops in skillet and sear until nicely browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip each chop over and cook until meat is just firm to the touch, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Serve immediately with chutney on the side.
(These chops can also be grilled.)
Nutrition info (per serving) – Pork Chop & Pear Chutney: CALORIES 419 (113 from fat); FAT 13g (sat. 4g); CHOL 71mg; SODIUM 244mg; CARB 52g; FIBER 4g; PROTEIN 26g