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Playing Rachael’s Pork Chops with Sage, Cider and Balsamic Vinegar

"Either fresh figs or thinly sliced apples complement this dish depending on the month or season," says Rach. This recipe includes a side of Cheesy Mashed Potatoes made with Taleggio or Fontina—but she also says these tangy-sweet chops would be delicious with her Quick-Cooking Cheesy Polenta.

Ingredients
  • 4 pork chops, bone in, about 1 - 1 ¼ inch thick
  • Salt and pepper
  • A small bunch of sage leaves
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, EVOO, about 2 tablespoons
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup aged balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup fig preserves
  • 2 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup cloudy apple cider
  • 8 fresh figs or 2 crisp apples, for apples, peel, quarter, core, slice and saute 2-3 minutes in butter with a splash of lemon juice
For the cheesy mashed potatoes:
  • 4 Russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • Salt
  • 6 ounces taleggio, trimmed of rind and diced, or Fontina Val D'Aosta, shredded
  • 1 cup milk, warmed
  • White pepper
  • Finely grated nutmeg, to taste, about ⅛ teaspoon
Yield
Serves: 4
Preparation

Preheat oven to 425˚F with rack at center.

Season the pork chops with salt and pepper and press a few leaves of sage into chops. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and brown chops in EVOO, 2 turns of the pan. Brown chops on both sides and remove, 4-5 minutes total. Add butter, melt, add garlic and shallot, stir a minute or 2, then add vinegar and melt preserves into it. Add mustard and cider, reduce 1-2 minutes, then add salt and black pepper to taste. Add figs or apples and stir, add chops back and transfer to oven for 12-15 minutes.  

Meanwhile, boil potatoes or make polenta (get my quick-cooking polenta recipe with honey, pepper and cheese here).

Cover potatoes with water, bring to boil, salt water and cook to tender, then drain and place back in hot pot; mash with cheese and milk; season.