When cooking boneless cuts of chicken or pork, I often pair them with a pan sauce or glaze.
Just a few tablespoons can liven up any dish, including today’s recipe for Pork with Cherry Juice Glaze. And when it comes to these very lean pieces of meat, a sauce or glaze can rescue it. I say rescue because such cuts are very easy to overcook.
One way to make sure the meat is cooked properly is to use an instant-read thermometer and know how to use it. In my gadget drawer at home, I have three (two dial ones and one digital). At least twice a year, I make sure the dial ones are calibrated properly. To check a dial thermometer, fill a glass with crushed ice and add water. Insert the thermometer, making sure the dimple part on the stem is in the ice, and let it stand about 5 minutes. It should read 32 degrees. You can do the same with a digital thermometer. It should register 32 degrees and should have a reset button. Or check the manufacturer’s instructions.
Today’s recipe uses boneless pork chops that are about 1-inch thick. Pork, whether you use bone-in or boneless cuts, is notoriously overcooked.
Several years ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture changed its safe temperature guidelines for many meat cuts. The changes make it easier for people to remember. For whole cuts of pork, the safe temperature is 145 degrees with a three-minute resting time before slicing. That temperature also applies to whole cuts of meat. For all poultry, the safe internal temperature is 165 degrees.
The trick to avoid overcooking the pork chops is to sear the chops in an ovenproof skillet first, and then finish them in the oven.
In this recipe, the glaze is made with tart cherry juice concentrate. Because the concentrate flavor is intense and rich, it goes a long way. You can cut the fresh concentrates with water — check the label for conversions or adjust to your taste. Some frozen concentrates have water in them, so adjust them with water to taste. Keep in mind that the concentrate will cook down some and the flavor will intensify.
If you plan to use fresh juice in today’s recipe, omit the water. Use twice as much juice so that it gets the consistency of a glaze.
Pork with Cherry Juice Glaze
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes
If using fresh juice for the glaze, omit the water and use more fresh juice.
2 Tbsp. olive oil or canola oil
4 boneless, center-cut pork loin chops (about 5 ounces each and 1-inch thick)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Salt and black pepper to taste
Favorite all-purpose seasoning to taste
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. garlic powder to taste
1/3 cup brandy or sherry or chicken broth
1/2 cup frozen tart cherry juice concentrate, thawed, or substitute 1 cup fresh juice
1/2 cup water
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. In a large ovenproof skillet, warm the oil over medium-high heat. Trim excess fat from the pork chops. In a shallow dish or pie plate, combine the flour, salt and pepper, all-purposing seasoning, thyme and garlic powder.
When the oil is hot, dredge the pork chips in the flour mixture, shaking off the excess. Place in the skillet and brown on one side, about 5 minutes. Turn the pork chops over and place the entire skillet in the oven. Cook the pork chops until the internal temperature is about 145 degrees, about 12 minutes.
The skillet handle is hot so carefully remove the skillet from the oven. Transfer the pork chops to a plate, and cover with foil to keep warm.
Meanwhile, place the skillet back on the stove and bring the pan juices to a boil. Add the brandy to the pan and deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom. Add the juice concentrate and water. Bring to a boil again and cook until the mixture reduces slightly and is of a glaze consistency.
Serve with the pork along with caramelized onions and toasted basmati rice.
From and tested by Susan Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.
303 calories (34 percent from fat), 12 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 12 g carbohydrates, 31 g protein, 57 mg sodium, 88 mg cholesterol, 28 mg calcium, 0 g fiber.
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