I've tried to like country music. Really, I've tried. As a child of the 70s and 80s I was raised on a regular diet of cowboy vinyl from Randy Travis, Ricky Skaggs and Willy Nelson. But it didn't stick. Sure, I thought the Dixie Chicks were pretty cool for a while there in 2002 or so (okay, I still kinda dig the Chicks), but most of the country genre remains a foreign concept to me. I know there are those of you out there who live and breathe country, who identify with the emotional themes and the mustached stars and the whole pick-up truck on a dusty road thing. Good on you. Maybe I'm missing a certain genetic predisposition to all things country and cowboy, and maybe I wish I understood it all better and had an appreciation for that guitar thing you play sitting down. But when it comes to cowboy food? Well, now you're talkin' a language I can understand. And, other than a steak off a searing hot grill, ain't nothin' more cowboy to me than a pan fried pork chop.
These pork chops with angry apricot sauce are quick and simple to make and offer a real slap to the taste buds. Sweet with heat, I'd say, and the sauce is prepared right in the pan. After the chops are lifted out, in go some chopped dried apricots, red wine, cider vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce and fiery cayenne pepper to kick their heels together in the pan for mere moments before getting poured over those golden brown chops. Howdy, dinner.
Here's how I made it:
makes 4 servings
2 lbs boneless pork loin chops
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup red wine
1/4 cup cider vinegar
12 dried apricots, roughly chopped
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
While my large non-stick skillet warmed over medium-high heat, I dried the pork chops by patting both sides with paper towel. Once the pan was searing hot, I pressed the pork chops into the skillet and let them cook 5-6 minutes until nicely browned on the bottom (if the chops are stuck to the pan that means it's too early to flip). I seasoned the chops with the salt and pepper then flipped them over, cooking another 5-6 minutes until browned on the other side and cooked through (no longer pink inside). Then I removed the chops to a plate to rest while I prepared the sauce.
With the heat still at medium-high, I added the wine, vinegar, apricots, brown sugar, soy sauce and cayenne to the pan and brought the mixture to a bubble for a minute or two while stirring with a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan. Drippings from the rested chops were poured into the sauce, then the chops were arranged on a platter and the sauce poured over top to serve (shown garnished with fresh cilantro).
Okay, I confess I listened to Landslide from the Dixie Chicks' album Home on repeat while writing this whole post. So, who knows. Maybe there's hope yet for me and country music.