Most people understand that pairing pork chops and apples is a foolproof dinner, so why is it such a stretch to pair the meat with some in-season peaches straight from the farmers' market? Perhaps it's that the fruit is often exceedingly sweet, without the slightest bit of tartness to even things out, thereby shifting the sauce from the savory side of things into straight dessert territory. How to prevent that? Like most social situations, adding bourbon makes just about everything a little better.
Of course, you can't just add bourbon straight in. This recipe takes a couple things from peaches flambe—minus the sugar, of course. The pork chops are sautéed until golden brown, then removed. Drained of any grease, butter and peaches are added to the skillet, picking up savory browned bits stuck to the pan along the way. Then the flourish: the heat is killed, bourbon is poured in, and then lit with a match. The aggressive alcohol burns off, leaving a faintly smoky and only slightly sweet sauce. Finally, the chops are added back in, along fresh basil, and the whole mixture is transferred to the oven to finish.
I do wonder whether mint would have made a better fresh herb match, but can't complain about the sauce. Rich and fruity, but never too syrupy, it pairs well with the meaty chops.
- Yield:serves 4
- Active time: 20 minutes
- Total time:20 minutes
- 4 thick-cut pork chops (approximately 1 1/2-inches thick)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 2 peaches, pits removed, each cut into 8 wedges
- Sugar to taste (optional)
- 2 tablespoons bourbon (such as Maker's Mark)
- 16 fresh basil leaves
Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 400°F. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. Add the chops and cook until browned on both sides, three to four minutes per side. Remove from heat and transfer chops to a large plate. Set aside. Discard excess grease from skillet.
Add the butter to the skillet and heat over medium heat until butter is melted. Add the peach wedges, tossing to coat them in the melted butter. Cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until the peaches are warm and soft, 1 to 3 minutes depending on ripeness of peaches. If peaches are very under-ripe, add sugar to taste.
Remove skillet from heat and add bourbon. Light a long match and carefully wave it by the skillet to ingnite the whiskey. Allow flame to die naturally, then use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from bottom of pan. Season sauce to taste with salt, black pepper, and sugar.
Add the pork chops back to the skillet and top each with four basil leaves. Position the peaches on top of the chops. Transfer the skillet to the oven, and cook until chops achieve desired doneness, about 4 minutes for medium. Carefully remove the pan and divide the chops and peaches between four plates. Spoon some of the drippings from the pan on top of the meat and serve.