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The second Yankee Chef

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My father, Jack Bailey, was the second Yankee Chef (with his father being the first), and his birthday is May 10. He would have been 74 years of age this year. I remember well the types of food he adored, and one of them was pork chops. Didn't matter how they were cooked, bone-in pork chops were his favorite. He also enjoyed any recipe that screamed New England, using ingredients such as blueberries, molasses, fiddleheads, maple syrup and apple cider. Because his salt intake was limited, he used pepper extensively on his chops and steaks, which he always loved anyway. He also had an affinity for sweet potatoes and yams. Dad would smother every meat he cooked with grilled onions, a habit I proudly continue. Dad would have thoroughly enjoyed this week's recipe, created with him in mind, because I use bone-in chops along with apple cider and a few fixin's he would have loved. I think you will love it too.

Peppered pork chops with apple cream sauce

  • 4 sweet potatoes, washed
  • 4 thick bone-in, center-cut pork chops, about 2 lbs.
  • 1 T. cracked peppercorns (or use ground black pepper)
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. dried thyme
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 2 lg. onions (Vidalia if you can find them), peeled, cut in half and sliced about 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 1/2 c. apple cider or juice
  • 1 1/2 c. chicken broth, or use vegetable broth if desired
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 4 t. Dijon-style mustard

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Place sweet potatoes on baking sheet and bake for 60 minutes or until tender. While baking potatoes, season both sides of chops with salt, thyme and cracked pepper, making sure to pat the pepper into the meat well so it adheres well. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. When hot, add chops, cook 4-5 minutes per side or till browned, but not fully cooked throughout. Remove to plate.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add the onion. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until softened. Stir in cider. Place chops on top of onion; cover and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes or until chops are completely cooked. Place chops on serving plate, remove onion with slotted spoon and place alongside chops. Cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Increase heat to high and add remaining cider and broth. Cook over high heat, stirring, for 6-8 minutes or until slightly reduced and thickened. Add cream and cook for 5 minutes longer to thicken even more. Remove from heat and stir in the mustard. Serve sauce with the chops, onion and sweet potatoes.

I remember my father always saying, "When in doubt, use thyme!" Although not everyone likes the minty and lemony taste of thyme, you can substitute basil, marjoram, oregano or savory in this recipe.

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