Grilled Pork Chops with Balsamic Cherries

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As the Summer of 2020 is quickly drawing to a close, I know that many of us probably have hit “the cooking wall” during the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic and it’s okay. We have to remind ourselves that everything does not have to perfect, as we are all looking for easier ways to prepare meals and break through the doldrums of being at home.

The one comfort I do find in my every day life can be found in my kitchen. Cooking has always served as my therapy in one form of another. With a little imagination, there is endless combination of proteins and produce that can grace your table. And if you like to eat seasonally, summer fruits like cherries, peaches and melon can take center stage in sweet and savory dishes.

This recipe is easy and only takes five ingredients and takes advantage of common pantry items like balsamic vinegar and olive oil. You can use bone in or boneless pork chops. I prefer bone in chops as they are less likely to dry out on the grill. Pork goes well with just about any type of fruit. Feel free to mix it up a little by using peaches, apples, blueberries, black berries or even strawberries, if you like.

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups of fresh cherries, pitted and cut in halves
4 bones pork chops
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2-3 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Preheat an outdoor grill or indoor grill pan to medium heat.

In a small bowl, add the balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Ass the cherries and toss to coat. Allow the cherries to stand at room temperature and marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Pat the pork chops dry with clean paper towels. Brush the pork chops all over with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season both sides with salt and pepper, to taste.

Place the pork chops on the grill and cook 3 to 4 minutes per side, until thoroughly cooked. Using an instant read thermometer inserted into each pork chop, the temperature of the meat should be 145 °F. If you are using bone-in pork chops, cook them for 6-8 minutes per side or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chop registers 145º F, as well.

Using tongs, remove the chops from the grill and place on serving platter, allowing them to rest for at least 5 minutes.

To serve, spoon the cherry mixture over the pork chops and garnish with parsley.

Cook’s Notes:
Fresh bing cherries were used for this recipe, but any variety of sweet cherry will also work in this dish. I find that a little bit of sweetness goes particularly well with pork dishes.

If you are only able to find sour cherries, it is recommended that you add one teaspoon of sugar to the sauce as it reduces. This dish tastes great with either fresh or frozen cherries, so use fresh if they are in season and if you are still craving this dish in the dead of winter, it is perfectly fine to use frozen cherries.

If you do not have any parsley on hand, herbs like thyme,rosemary or tarragon would work beautifully in this dish.

Also, you can substitute the pork with chicken thighs or boneless chicken breasts.

Alternatively, you can dredge the pork chops in seasoned flour and shallow pan fry until golden brown.

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Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Balsamic Roasted Strawberries

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For me, one of the fun things about cooking is thinking outside of box and combining flavors to create a wholesome yet interesting  dish. Sometimes, you get to combine ingredients and flavors that don’t seem like they should go together. Yes, of course, this  can sound a bit strange, like dill pickles and maple syrup. But let’s consider meat and fruit. You might recall some classic dishes, such as turkey with cranberry sauce, lemon pepper chicken, and more. These familiar meat and fruit pairings are delicious, yet the idea of using both fruit and meal in the same dish is undoubtedly a little controversial. You might know that someone who cannot forgive the crime of putting pineapples and ham on pizza.

However, let’s not worry about that….for now.

Intuitively, there are some meat and fruit combinations that  you might not consider  to be perfect flavor companions, but you will find that their sweet and salty relationship does work: fruit adds a sweetness or even tartness to the salty meat. The main challenge with fruit and meat is finding the right combinations. When the right types of fruit and meat are paired with each other, this extra contrasting dimension enhances the flavor and appeal of the dish.

So that brings us full circle back around to pork and strawberries.

Pork comes in many forms and when paired with fruit, the combinations are endless.Traditionally, pork pairs well with fruits like apples, apricots, cranberries, currants, dried cherries, dried figs, mangoes, oranges, peaches, pears, pineapple, plums,  and even quice. But  very few people will intutively think  of  strawberries being paired with pork. The technique of roasting brings out the sweetness in strawberries, making them a delicious accompaniment to spice-rubbed, pan-seared pork chops.This unusual  combination will not only impress yourself  but your family as well.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the Strawberries:
1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved widthwise
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste

For the Pork Chops:
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
¼ tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
Four  1 ½ – 2 pounds bone-in center cut pork chops
¼ cup fresh mint leaves, for garnish

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment. On prepared pan, toss the strawberries with the shallots, brown sugar, and oil. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Roast 10–12 minutes, until strawberries are soft.

Season on both sides of the pork chops  with salt . To  a small bowl, add  the cumin, coriander, and cayenne. Mix to combine. Rub the seasoning all over the pork chops. Make sure to wash your hands. 

In a large cast iron skillet, add the oil and heat on medium high until the oil is shimmering. Add the pork chops to the skillet and cook 5 minutes per side, until cooked through. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.

To serve, arrange the pork chops on a platter and ladle the roasted strawberries on top of the chops. Garnish with the mint and enjoy.

 

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All photographs and content, excepted where noted, are copyright protected. Please do not use these photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this photograph and all other contents, then we kindly ask that you link back to this site. We are eternally grateful and we appreciate your support of this blog.

Thank you so much!


How Long Your Fresh Produce Will Really Last?

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Are you wondering how long your fruits and vegetables will last, and how to tell when produce has gone bad? This handy little guide for the quarantine kitchen  is here to help.

We -are all in the midst of the global COVID-19 Pandemic. And I am sure that you all have just done a limited run to your local grocery stores  with  few bags fo fresh produce, but do you know how to extend the life of your fruits and vegetables at home?

To keep your bounty fresh with this handy food storage guide.

Now, keep in mind that this guide is that  outlines the shelf life of common fruits and vegetables so you can smartly plan meals to eat your most fragile foods first.

And yes, we have all encountered that fuzzy science experiment in the back of the fridge. So no  more finding slimy lettuce in the crisper drawer at the end of the week!

In the Chart below, tips  on how to store and help preserve your food longer and in its best condition are listed.  The Chart also shares signs that your food is at peak ripeness so you can enjoy that fleeting crispy cauliflower at its glory.

HOW TO STORE AND PRESERVE FRESH PRODUCE

Produce How Long It Lasts Tips for Fresh Produce
Apples 4-8 weeks in the fridge It’s OK if your apple has a few brown spots. Those can be cut away. But if it looks wrinkled or feels mushy, it’s time to toss.
Avocado 4-7 days at room temperature Peel off the stem. If the skin underneath is green, the avocado is ripe. It’ll also give in to light pressure when squeezed.
Bananas 2-5 days at room temperature Bananas are best when they’re yellow and have just started to develop brown spots. A ripe banana will be easy to peel.
Blueberries 1-2 weeks in the fridge Most blueberries you get at the store will be ready to gobble down. They’ll have a blue-gray color. If they start to feel moist or look moldy, it’s time to toss.
Broccoli 7-14 days in the fridge Your broccoli should have a rich, green color. It’s best to eat when the stems feel firm, not limp.
Carrots 3-4 weeks in the fridge Carrots are past their prime when they feel limp or have developed a white, grainy look. If you bought carrots with their greens on, it’s best to cut the greens off and store separately.
Cucumbers 1 week in the fridge Your cucumber should have a bright and even green color throughout. Discard if it has any sunken areas, is yellow or has wrinkly skin.
Garlic 3-6 months at room temperature Garlic in its prime will feel firm and have an off-white color. If it’s grown any sprouts, peel them away before cooking. Pass up garlic that has turned tan or looks wrinkly.
Iceberg and romaine lettuce 7-10 days in the fridge If your greens look discolored, feel soggy or have a rotten smell, it’s time to discard.
Lemons 3-4 weeks in the fridge Healthy lemons will be bright yellow and slightly firm to the touch. It’s overripe if it has soft spots, dark blotches or is oozing juice.
Onions 2-3 months at room temperature A good onion will look clean and feel firm. Moisture and soft spots can be a sign it’s gone bad.
Oranges 3-4 weeks in the fridge Juicy oranges will look bright and feel slightly firm to the touch. Check to see that there are no soft spots.
Peaches 1-3 days at room temperature Ripe peaches will have a deep golden color. They’ll also wrinkle slightly around the stem and give in a bit when gently squeezed.
Potatoes 3-5 weeks in the pantry A good potato will feel firm and smell like earth. It’s OK if it has small sprouts, but if the sprouts are longer than a few centimeters, your potato may have gone bad.
Strawberries 3-7 days in the fridge Fragrant and bright strawberries are the best to eat. Discard if there is any sign of mold.
String beans 3-5 days in the fridge The beans should be slender and firm without any visible seeds. You’ll know they’ve gone bad if they’ve turned limp or moist.
Tomatoes 1 week at room temperature Ready-to-eat tomatoes will feel firm when slightly squeezed and seem slightly heavy compared with their size.
Watermelon 7 to 10 days at room temperature Tap on the side. If the melon sounds hollow, it’s good to eat. Also, it should feel firm when pressed but not hard as a rock.
Whole mushrooms 7-10 days in the fridge If the mushroom feels sticky or slimy, it’s bad. Whole mushrooms will keep longer than sliced mushrooms.
Zucchini 4-5 days in the fridge Your summer squash should be firm yet slightly flexible and have glossy skin. If the zucchini looks gray, it may be overly ripe.

Download the Printable Chart

No matter what-or when-you decide to cook, it’s best to err on the conservative side when judging whether food is safe. Trust your instincts. If something looks or smells off, your best bet is to toss it.

Want more? Read up on: 12 secret tricks to keep fruits and vegetables fresh longer.

Be Well and Stay Safe Out There!