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Oct 27, 2015
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WINE WITH…Pork Chops with Red Wine Sauce and Apples

It was a sad day at the farmers’ market a couple of weeks ago. Summer’s peaches and plums had disappeared altogether, replaced by mountains of apples. Now, we’ve got nothing against apples, except that their season lasts too long, especially here on the east coast where there’ll be little other fresh local fruit until May. But for the moment, at least, we’re excited about sinking our teeth into some fresh crisp, sweet-tart and juicy apples, and so we filled our bags with Honey Crisps, Macouns, amd Braeburns. While we were at it we picked up a bit of trivia: the United States, it seems, grows some 2,500 different apple varieties. And who knew that the five most commonly consumed apples in the US are Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Gala and Fuji? We added a couple of Grannie Smiths to the bag.

For most recipes that call for cooked apples we like to use two or three different kinds to add a variety of textures, flavors and color. This time we put those Grannie Smiths to use. Grannie Smiths, which are probably a cross between Rome Beauty and French crabapples, originated in Australia in the 1820s. They tend to hold their shape well during cooking, and they have a bright and fruity flavor. We also used Macouns, which originated in New York State in the 1920s and whose parentage is a Macintosh/Jersey Black cross. When they’re cooked, Macouns maintain some of their pretty reddish color and they soften quickly into applesauce consistency.

Pork Chops With Red Wine Sauce and Apples

Serves 4

Serve this with something like rice or potatoes to soak up all the luscious cooking juices. We accompanied our chops with potatoes mashed with creamed spinach.

Preheat the oven to 400°

4 pork chops, with or without bone, about 1-inch thick
Salt and pepper
4 apples
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 clove garlic, finely minced
Butter for greasing the baking dish
1 cup sweet or semi-sweet white wine such as off-dry Riesling, sherry, Madeira or Moscato
about ½ cup flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup full-flavored red wine such as Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet

Season both sides of the pork chops with salt and pepper, preferably an hour or two before cooking. Refrigerate until you are ready to cook them.

Cut the apples, unpeeled, into quarters, and core them. Place them in a lightly buttered 9x9 or 9x13 inch baking dish. Stir the garlic and cayenne into the wine and season with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the apple slices and bake until the apples are lightly colored, soft and most of the wine has cooked away, about 15 minutes (stir them once or twice while they are cooking).

To cook the pork, pat the chops dry and dust them lightly with flour. Heat the oil in a sturdy skillet, and add the pork chops in a single layer. Sear the chops over high heat for a minute or two, then flip them and sear the other side. Pour in the red wine and continue cooking it at a fairly energetic boil, turning the chops from time to time. After about 6-8 minutes, cut into one of the chops to test for doneness. Remove them when they are done to taste and continue cooking the wine, stirring constantly, until it is dark and syrupy. Drizzle it over the chops, and serve them with the baked apples and their cooking juices.

* * *

This dish works equally well with whites and reds--fairly rich, substantial whites, and light to medium weight reds. It does not much like overt oak, but it does have an affinity for wines that sport a touch of sweetness. The apples are what enable whites to work well, while the sauce naturally invites reds. And the chops themselves? Being the so-called other white meat, it works well with both colors. This, then, is another example of a dish in which color makes little difference, but body or weight does.

Questions or comments? Contact us at Talkofthevine@gmail.com

On Twitter we are @WineWith and @PaulLukacs.


Selection

Approx. Price

Comments

Marie du Beauregard, Vouvray (Loire Valley, France) 2013

(Imported by Pasternak)

$22

Slightly sweet and tasting of juicy apple-like fruit, the attraction of this Vouvray with this particular dish is easy enough to imagine. The wine echoes flavors in the dish.

Michel Briday, Rully Blanc (Burgundy, France)

2012

(Imported by Vineyard Brands)

$26

A classy white Burgundy, with more than a subtle note of minerality, this wine provided a foil to the sweet apples and added an intriguing note of sophistication to the juicy chops.

Herdade do Esporão, Alentejano (Portugal) “Quatro Castas” 2013

(Imported by Aidil Wines & Liquors)

$28

A blend of four grapes (Alicante Bouschet, Aragonez, Tinta Miúda and Touriga Nacional), this is the most substantial wine we are recommending. It’s juicy and ripe, so much like the sauce in the dish, and proves irresistible.

Famille Perrin, Vacqueyras (Rhône Valley, France) 2012

(Imported by Vineyard Brands)

$32

An earthy red, with notes of black pepper, savory spice, and something resembling pipe tobacco, this southern Rhône beauty gave the dish added depth.

Scala Dei, Priorat (Spain) Garnatxa 2013

(Imported by Aveníu Brands)

$22

Wines from Priorat tend to be hearty and even bruising, but this Grenache, from the region’s most historic winery, is fairly light on the palate. It offers plum-like fruit flavors enhanced by hints of anise and spice