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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Pork Chops with Pear & Ginger Sauce

Last week my wife and I were working-out at our health club (we have to get rid of all that butter) which offers a healthy recipe of the week.  The recipe for that week: Pork Chops with Pear and Ginger Sauce was from Legacy Heart Services (one of the Portland area hospital group) and sounded good.  The following Friday we were having my wife’s nephew and his wife over for dinner and we though this would be a great time to try this recipe (especially as our nephew works for the Legacy hospital system).

I started by preparing the boneless pork loins that I had purchased at Costco.  These pork loin pieces are about one inch thick, which is too thick for the recipe, so I sliced each pork loin in half to make half-inch thick pieces.  I peeled the ginger root, and then sliced it as thin as I could and set it aside until needed.

I placed our largest skillet on the range on medium high heat, and added about two tablespoons of olive oil.  This is where I made my mistake.  The pork loins were slightly frozen (which made the slicing easier), so I defrosted them in the microwave.  This left some liquid on the plate that I should have blotted with paper towel.  But no, I just plopped the first piece of pork right into the pan with the hot oil.

If I wasn’t so concerned about the mess from the hot oil and liquid spraying all over, I would have been quite fascinating to watch the spectacle!  Some of the water blew three feet into the air and was dripping from the bottom of the vent hood.  The top of our range was an oily watery mess.  I drained the plate with the subsequent pieces of pork which greatly reduced the splattering. 

Once all the pork was cooked, I moved it to the oven to keep warm while the rest of the sauce was cooked.  At this point, I turned on the heat under a pan to steam some prepared asparagus.

The rest of the recipe went very well, a little inexpensive white wine from Trader Joes, one Anjou pear, the freshly sliced ginger and some green onions.

About when I was to add the pork back into the sauce, I realized I had left the asparagus boiling.  Mistake number two (no timer), and we had very limp and overcooked asparagus with the meal, but our guests were very gracious about it.

My wife had prepared a wonderful green salad enhanced with some dried cranberries and we sat down to a delightful dinner.  The pears added a very subtle flavor to the sauce and the pork loin was cooked to perfection.  There may have been a little too much ginger in the sauce, but it was fine as long as we didn’t eat many of the ginger strips.

After our guests left and we cleaned up, my wife was very gracious and cleaned the cook top and wall where the liquid and oil had sprayed.

Pork Chops with Pear & Ginger Sauce - Serves 4

4 4-ounce boneless pork chops, 1/2 –inch thick, trimmed
1/2-teaspoon salt (really to taste)
Ground pepper
2-teaspoons olive oil
3-tablespoons cider vinegar
2-tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup dry white wine (optional)
1-cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 firm, ripe pear, such as Bosc or Anjou, cord and cut lengthwise into eighths
6 scallions, trimmed an sliced into 1/2-inch lengths
2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 2-teaspoons water

Season pork with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add (blotted) pork and cook until browned and just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side.  Transfer to a large plate and keep warm.  Pour off fat from the pan.

Add vinegar and sugar to the pan; stir to dissolve the sugar.  Cook over medium-high heat until the syrup turns dark amber, 10 to 20 seconds.  Pour in wine (stand back, as the caramel may sputter) and bring to a simmer while stirring.  Add broth, pears, and ginger; bring to a simmer.  Cook, uncovered, occasionally turning the pears, for 5 minutes.  Add scallions and cook until the pears are tender, about 2 additional minutes.  Add the cornstarch mixture and cook, stirring, until lightly thickened.  Reduce heat to low and return the pork and any accumulated juices to the pan; turn to coat with the sauce.  Serve immediately.

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