One of the trips we took as kids encompassed several of the New England states. Two places made an impact on me: Maine with the fresh lobster and steamed clams, and Vermont with all that maple syrup.
I have never tapped trees, and probably never will, but I am thankful to know several people who tap maples and boil down that sap into beautiful amber liquid.
A recent addition to my interests has been “bitters”. Historically traced back to ancient Egypt, and popping up in history ever since then, it is the common use of bitters during the 1800’s that fascinates me. Bitters were said to cure everything from sea sickness to home sickness, headaches to bad humour, fainting to flatulence, mental illness to malaria, and a host of other ailments.
Angostura aromatic bitters were originally made in Venezuela as far back as the 1830’s, but are now imported from Trinidad and Tobago. (I removed the oversized label from my bottle because it was annoying. Little did I know that is the trademark.)
At some point bitters were added to cocktails, and that’s where my history begins. Last year a dear friend joined us for supper, and brought the ingredients to make an Old Fashioned. I willingly cook with bourbon, but usually think it tastes somewhat like lighter fluid. But, SURPRISE! The Old Fashioned was delicious!
So my brain started putting things together – maple syrup, bourbon, apples, pork chops, and bitters. Yum!
Mix up the marinade and let the pork chops soak in it for at least 2 hours. I would typically use one bone-in chop per person, but these bad boys came directly from the butcher, and were tender, wonderful, and substantial enough to share.
Mix up the glaze in a small sauce pan and reduce by half, which takes 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the chutney in another sauce pan. Combine the apples, cider, sugar, cinnamon, thyme, lemon juice and the bitters. Let that simmer together until the apples are soft. Then stir in the butter and bourbon and set aside.
Sear the pork chops on both sides before turning down the heat so they can cook to 135 degrees internally. This takes a while, but caramelizes the glaze and makes the pork super-tender and moist.
Remove chops from the pan, cover, and allow them to sit and settle. Any remaining glaze can be poured back into the pan and reduced while the pork is resting.
The Amazing Results:
Serve pork chops topped with the apple chutney, drizzling the carmelized glaze over the top. Could anything be better than this?