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Mar 10, 2015

GRILLED PORK CHOPS WITH DRIED CHERRY, BACON, AND VIDALIA ONION CONSERVE

Makes 4 main-course servings

 

4 (3/4-pound) pork rib chops, preferably from pasture-raised pork

2 cloves garlic, halved

Kosher salt

 

DRIED CHERRY, BACON,  AND VIDALIA ONION CONSERVE

1/2 cup dried sour cherries

1 1/2 cups Touriga Nacional or other fruity red wine

1/4 pound slab bacon, in a single piece

2 (6-ounce) Vidalia or other sweet onions, thinly sliced

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons unsulfured light molasses, or ¼ cup pomegranate molasses

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon aniseeds or fennel seeds, coarsely ground in a mortar or spice grinder

1 teaspoon coriander seeds, coarsely ground in a mortar or spice grinder

1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

 

Trim away any excess fat from the pork chops, then dry the chops well. Rub the chops all over with the cut side of the garlic doves, and then sprinkle lightly on both sides with salt. Cover the chops and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight. Remove the chops from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before grilling.

To make the conserve, in a small saucepan, combine the cherries and wine over medium heat and bring to just below a simmer. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Drain the cherries through a sieve placed over a bowl, and set the cherries and the wine aside separately.

Cut the bacon into slices 1/4 inch thick. Divide the slices in half, and then neatly stack each half. Cut each stack crosswise into lardoons ¼ inch wide. (The rectangular strips should be a uniform 1/4 inch on each side.) In a heavy saucepan, fry the bacon over medium heat until browned and tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain.

Pour off all but ¼ cup of the fat from the pan, and return the pan to medium heat. Add the onions and bay leaves and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to very low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and translucent, about 20 minutes. Add the molasses and vinegar, raise the heat to medium, and bring to a boil. Add the reserved cherry-soaking wine, bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the wine has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Stir in the reserved bacon and cherries and season with salt and a generous amount of pepper. Remove from the heat and keep warm.

While the conserve is cooking, prepare a charcoal or gas grill for indirect grilling over a medium fire. In a small bowl, mix together the aniseeds, coriander, pepper, and olive oil. Rub the chops on both sides with the spice-oil mixture.

Oil the grill rack Arrange the chops on the grill rack directly over the fire and grill for 2 minutes. Rotate the chops 90 degrees to create attractive grill marks and grill for 2 minutes longer. Transfer the chops to a cooler part of the grill, cover the grill, and cook for 6 to 8 minutes for medium, or until done to your liking. Transfer the chops to a wire rack, tent loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 4 to 5 minutes.

Reheat the conserve over low heat if necessary, and transfer to a warmed serving bowl. Place the chops on warmed plates and serve at once. Pass the conserve at the table.

NOTE: You can prepare the conserve except for stirring in the bacon a few hours ahead of serving. Stir in the bacon just before serving.

Recipe Credit

Adapted from Evan Goldstein, Daring Pairings: A Master Sommelier Matches Distinctive Wines with Recipes from His Favorite Chefs  © 2010 Evan Goldstein. Do not reproduce without permission. Recipe Credit: Ben Barker, Magnolia Grill

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