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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

6 Ingredient Week Night Cooking - Pork Chops with Cider Dijon Sauce and Zucchini/Carrot Ribbons


I hate to cook during the week - I try to do most of my cooking for the week on Sunday, maximizing my time in the kitchen using the oven and the stove. This past week and weekend, I just didn't feel like cooking at all, so we had a lot of make do meals and take out.  Not our usual eating habits but sometimes you have to give yourself a break.  I didn't have a lot of things cooked for mix and matching meals, I had to make something for tonight's dinner that would be quick yet delicious.  I already had smashed Idaho and Sweet Potatoes from our Sunday Supper taking care of my daily starch requirement cravings.  

Tonight's dinner was sautéed pork chops with thyme and a hard cider and Dijon reduction sauce, also known as a pan sauce.  The flavor for the sauce is built up from the browned bits (the FOND) left in the pan from sautéing the pork chops.  You then create additional flavors by reducing down an alcoholic based "hard" cider, cooking off the boozy flavor and leaving behind the sweet and sour notes of the cider.  Using Dijon mustard adds mouth-feel without adding calories.  I often use mustard as thickeners in sauces instead of using butter or cream.  If you don't have a bottle of hard cider, use a dry white wine, or white or dry vermouth along with a tablespoon of cider vinegar.

We eat zucchini and squash several times a week but I get bored with them quickly.  Turning the vegetables into ribbons or "pasta" changes the texture and look of the vegetables and helps them cook instantly.  You could forgo cooking them and turn them into a salad, adding a dash of white wine vinegar or white balsamic, sherry, champagne or cider vinegar to the olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper.  This would make your meal even quicker as you wouldn't have to cook the vegetables!

This meal only uses 6 ingredients, not counting salt, pepper, oil and flour, which you should have on hand for every day usage. There is minimal prep and dinner is done in under 30 minutes.  

Pork Chops with Thyme and Cider Dijon Pan Sauce Ingredients:

  • 2 Boneless Pork Chops - if too thick, cut in half through the center, creating two chops out of one
  • 1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Dried Thyme 
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil 
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper - to taste/season
  • 1 Cup Hard Cider (drink the remaining amount!)
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
Directions:
  1. If using thick cut boneless pork chops, cut them in half through the center, creating two thinner chops.  Season lightly with a pinch of salt and pepper on both sides, set aside.
  2. On a plate, mix together the flour, thyme and a generous pinch of salt and a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper.  Stir to combine. Dredge the pork chops in the season flour mixture, pressing the flour onto the chops so that the seasonings adhere to the chops.  Set the chops aside on the plate.
  3. Use a skillet and heat the olive oil over medium high heat until the oil begins to shimmer.  Once the oil is hot enough, add in the seasoned pork chops and sauté on one side for 5 to 7 minutes, depending on their thickness or until the chops are golden brown. Turn them over and sauté for 3 minutes more.  Remove the chops from the pan and set aside, covering loosely with foil to rest and keep warm.
  4. Pour the cup of hard cider into the pan, scrapping up the browned bits (known as the "FOND") and reduce the cider down by half.  Stir in the tablespoon of Dijon mustard, whisking to combine.  Heat the mixture until the sauce tightens and thickens, about one minute.  Serve the cider Dijon pan sauce hot over the pork chops.

Zucchini and Carrot Ribbons with Thyme Ingredients:
  • 2 Medium Zucchini - washed and ends cut off
  • 2 Medium Carrots - peeled and washed
  • 2 Teaspoons Dried Thyme
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper - to taste
Special Equipment Needed:
  • Vegetable Peeler - preferably a "Y" Shaped Peeler
  • Non-Stick Skillet
Directions:
  1. Wash and peel the vegetables.
  2. Use a "Y" Shaped vegetable peeler and cut long strips of zucchini  and carrots in long strokes.  Turn the vegetables around as you cut the ribbon strips, so that you get equal sized ribbons.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat until the oil shimmers.  Add in the zucchini and carrot ribbons and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring or tossing a few times.  
  4. Add in the dried thyme and sauté another 2 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot with the pork chops.

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