Simple Skillet Supper: Pork Chop with Cranberry, Onion Compote

My brother’s favorite meal – when he had a choice – was pork chops. He especially liked the Shake’N Bake barbecue kind. In the decades since then, he’s become a much more masterful chef. One of his specialties these days is a leg of lamb.

A leg of lamb, of course, takes a fair amount of time to prepare. It is best for a Sunday dinner with company, not a weeknight with your spouse and/or children.

Ah, but pork chops are perfect for a winter night’s dinner in a hurry.

Because I love food, and would travel to many parts of the world to taste it, some people think dinner is something easy for me. I wish I had a magic wand to wave and there would be an inspired dinner before me. In my life before parenthood, I would spend evenings and weekends gleaning magazines and cookbooks for menu ideas. I’d put together a menu for a week. I’d shop the menu. Cook the menu. And praise be the menu.

But then I had a baby. That was more than 14 years ago. I’ve had the occasional menu since then. Usually when traveling with family, friends, or at the beginning of the year as a New Year promise.

Post-parenthood, knowing what I will do tomorrow night is a challenge. Indeed, knowing about tonight is a challenge. Tonight I need to pick the dog up from the vet at 6:30 p.m. He’s had surgery and the animal hospital is on the other side of the county – so the drive, pickup (with care directions), and return home will be 90 minutes. My daughter came home from school and wants to go to a basketball game at 7 p.m. – smack dab in the middle of dog duty. Because the dog was having a tumor removed, I couldn’t plan. Or wouldn’t plan. It was a paralysis. If I focused all my energy on wishing Bobo to successfully come through surgery, then I didn’t have any brain power left for dinner.

And so it goes.

So tonight, like many nights, comes from the cupboard. I do keep pork chops and chicken breasts in the freezer. You can defrost them under cold running water relatively quickly (pork chop more easily than chicken breasts because they often are thinner).

I don’t care for processed foods, like Shake’N Bake. But I do get the convenience and some of the taste qualities – in this case a sort of sweet and sour in the barbecue flavoring. Saute some onions and add some mustard, vinegar, honey, and dried fruit (or a jam such as apricot or plum and skip the honey). Top the pork chops with this and suddenly your ordinary becomes extraordinary in less than half an hour.

I will explore other options for easy weeknight dinners in columns ahead. In the meantime …

XOXOXO

marnie

marnie@marniemeadmeadia.com

 

Print Recipe
Skillet-Roasted Pork Chops with Onion and Cranberry Compote
This is a fast and easy weekday dinner.
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Pat pork chops dry. Rub with 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil (for both). Sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides. Set aside.
  2. In a medium-sized skillet (preferably nonstick) over medium- to medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add onions and saute until soft and slightly caramelized - this can take 8 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle with salt.
  3. Stir in mustard, vinegar, cranberries, honey, and thyme. Remove from heat. Taste. Add more salt and pepper, if needed.
  4. Return pan to heat and add a drizzle of olive oil and 1 pork chop. Cook for about 2 minutes, and flip. Cook for another 2 minutes. If these are thin, they should be done. Repeat with second pork chop, adding any additional oil if needed.
  5. Plate pork chop and top with the onion compote.
  6. Suggested serving side: Roasted sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts.
Recipe Notes

To keep the pork chops from curling, take a pair of kitchen shears or a sharp knife and clip the fatty edges of the chop in about 3 places (evenly spaced).

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Sunday Suppers: Beef Tenderloin in Chianti

tree2I’ll fess up to being downright grumpy most of Saturday. I shoveled the walk three times. The wind howled on my dog walk, chilling through my Barbour jacket, down jacket, snow pants, knit hat with ear flaps, and my shearling mittens. And my nose was running, but I didn’t want to take the mittens off the get to the tissues that stocked in every coat I own.

I will stop complaining now. It’s not even officially winter. My home is warm. My daughter is delightful. I had a Friday night alone (beaux out of town and daughter at an overnight), so I could watch what I wanted. I updated software on my printer and cursed out loud and didn’t have to apologize to anyone. When that was over, I turned on the tree, made a cup of tea, and plopped onto the couch, where the dog joined me.

By Saturday night, I kicked the Grinch out of the house. I made the batter for four batches of Christmas cookies, which I will bake today. I am not sure why, since I don’t have an office to take them to. One of the drawbacks of working from home, and a situation I am working to remedy.

snowshoeThis morning, before the dog even begged, I dug my snowshoes and poles out of the container in the garage, loaded them and the dog into the car, and headed to Pleasant Ridge Park before 8 a.m. Halfway through our trek, my hat came off, my mittens off, both coats unzipped, and my mood was greatly improved. I made a pot of real coffee in the Chemex, took a shower, and figured out dinner.

I shop at McDonald’s Meats in Girard about once a month. When I’m buying whatever cut of meat took me there, I stock up on emergency dinner supplies. The meat is vacuum packed and frozen, which preserves its freshness. It also saves me from having to buy in bulk and then repackaging and freezing. Last month, I bought a couple of small beef tenderloin steaks to grill. I never got around to it, so these are the protein component for tonight’s dinner.

You typically grill or roast beef tenderloin, or wrap it in pastry (a laWellington). Since the grill is under about a foot of snow and Wellington is just too involved, I wondered about turning it into a stew. While this seems an expensive cut of meat to “stew,” is usually reserved for very tough meats that need tenderizing. But using tenderloin has a couple of advantages, as long as you don’t overcook it. First, it takes less time to cook the dish (less than an hour compared to about 3). Second, it is such a lean cut, that it benefits from being immersed in a richly flavored wine sauce.

So after a day divided between the outdoors and the oven, I’ll be glad to settle into a big bowl of Beef in Chianti tonight.

When Mother Nature gives you snow, you’ve got to strap on the snowshoes. (And dig the tenderloin out of the freezer).

XOXOXO

Marnie

Marnie@MarnieMeadMedia.com

Print Recipe
Beef Tenderloin in Chianti
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, French, Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, French, Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Mix together 2 tablespoons flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and a pinch of thyme in a large bowl or zip-top baggie. Add beef and toss to coat. In a large, heavy-bottomed pan on medium-high heat, cook bacon until browned and crisp. Remove bacon and set aside. Add beef in batches and cook until browned on the outside and very rare inside, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan and set aside on a platter. You may need to add oil for the second batch of the beef.
  2. Remove beef from the pan and set aside. If there is any oil/fat left, add garlic. If not, add 2 tablespoons of the oil and then the garlic. Cook until fragrant, but do not brown it. This takes about 30 seconds.
  3. Add red wine and cook on high, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom. Reduce for about 3 minutes, then add the beef stock, sprig of thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  4. In the same pan, saute the bacon on medium-low heat for 5 minutes, until browned and crisp. Remove the bacon and set it aside. Drain all the fat, except 2 tablespoons, from the pan. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  5. Deglaze the pan with the red wine and cook on high heat for 1 minute, scraping the bottom of the pan. Add the beef stock, tomato paste, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1 bay leaf. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered on medium-high heat for 10 minutes. Remove thyme sprig and bay leaf from the sauce. Add the onions and carrots and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, until the sauce is reduced and the vegetables are cooked.
  6. Mix together 1 tablespoon flour and butter. Stir into the sauce and simmer for about 2 minutes, so the flour is cooked through.
  7. In the meantime, if using the mushrooms, saute them in a separate pan in 1 tablespoon of oil until browned and tender, about 10 minutes.
  8. Add beef, bacon, and mushrooms to the sauce. Heat for about 5 minutes together. Turn off heat. You do not want to overcook the beef (this is not stew meat that benefits from longer cooking). This can sit for about 20 minutes before serving. The flavors will develop.
  9. Serve alone, with noodles, over mashed potatoes, or riced cauliflower.
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