This is a wonderful entree to make when cherries are in season. They do take a bit of time to pit, but they’re well worth the time.
If you don’t have garam masala, you can improvise your own using 3/4 teaspoon cumin, 1/3 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/3 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice. The amounts don’t need to be that precise.
Pork Chops with Brandied Cherries
Adapted from New York Times
Yield: 4 servings
- ¾ teaspoons salt, or more to taste
- 1 ½ teaspoon garam masala (see Note above)
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- 2 pounds of pork chops, 1 1/2 inches thick
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, smashed and peeled
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- 2 cups fresh sweet or sour cherries, pitted and halved
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme OR a dash of dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ½ teaspoon sherry OR rice vinegar OR honey, or more to taste (use vinegar with sweet cherries, honey with sour cherries)
- Combine salt, garam masala OR replacement mixture, pepper, and allspice in a small bowl.
- Rub mixture all over pork chops, covering their entire surface.
- Let chops rest for 15-30 minutes at room temperature, or up to 24 hours, covered, in the refrigerator. (I pit the cherries while the pork chops rest.)
- Heat a 10-inch skillet at medium-high. Add oil.
- Sear pork chops until brown, about 2-3 minutes per side.
- Add garlic to pan, then sear the fatty edges of the chops, using tongs to hold them up, for about 30 seconds to 1 minute each. (Flip the garlic after it browns on one side.) If the pan starts to smoke at any point, lower the heat.
- Transfer the pork to a plate, and spoon off all but a thin layer of fat from pan. (Leave garlic in the pan.)
- Add brandy to pan, let it simmer until the alcohol burns off (about 30 seconds)
- Add cherries, thyme, and 2 tablespoons water. Let simmer for 1 minute.
- Move cherries to the sides of the pan and return pork chops to the center so they can make contact with the metal.
- Cover pan and cook over low heat for about 7 minutes. If you have an instant-read thermometer (which I don’t), the meat should reach 130-135ºF (its temperature will rise as it rests).
- Transfer the pork to a cutting board or plate and let rest for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add butter and vinegar OR honey to the pan, stirring until butter melts and coats the cherries. Taste and add more honey or vinegar, and salt as needed.
- Serve pork chops with cherries.