Pangratz Farms in Girard, Pennsylvania, is one of my many farm stops during the summer produce months, especially once I see the fruit ripening on the trees. I’ve been watching the Italian plums (called prunes because this version of the plum is what is meaty and is preferred for drying) for the past couple of weeks because, unlike regular plums, these are perfect for cooking with chicken and pork.
Once the prune plums are in season, you will be able to get them for a couple of weeks, max. I stopped into Pangratz earlier this week and the owner s said it would be later in the week. A couple of 90-degree-days later, the plums were ready.
You can eat these plain, but they are best roasted or chopped and served in a salad when fresh. I’ll be cooking with them while they are in season, but this recipe is really simple and may be made any night of the week.
Pork Chops with Roasted Italian Plums
Easy seasonal dinner for late summer.
For pork chops: Boil 2 cups of water. In a non-reactive container, add sugar and salt and stir until dissolved. Add thyme sprigs. When room temperature, add pork chops. Place in fridge in the morning before you go to work.
Remove pork chops from fridge about a half an hour before you want to begin cooking.
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Toss plum halves with olive oil. Place in a cast iron pan. Roast for about 15 minutes and check to make sure they are not burning. You want them caramelized, but not burned. If they are ready, remove from oven. If not, roast for another 5 minutes.
Allow plums to cool slightly and transfer to a bowl. Toss with herbs de Provence and maple syrup.
Use the same pan you roasted the plums to cook the pork chops. Return it to the oven with the 2 tablespoons of oil to get it hot.
Pat the pork chops dry. Add them to the hot pan and return it to the oven to cook for about 4 minutes. Flip, return to the oven and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes. This will depend on thickness. If you buy thin chops, you will want to cook for only about 2-3 minutes and then flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Allow pork chops to rest for a couple of minutes. Plate with plums on the bottom, then chops. Pour any pan juices over chops.