Food & Drink

Quick fix: Apple butter and cider vinegar provide zip to pork

Using apple butter to flavor succulent pork chops provides a variation on a down-home favorite. Quick barley and lima beans make a crunchy and unusual side dish.

Apple butter is a thick preserve made by slowly cooking apples, sugar and spices together. Adding a little horse-radish and apple cider vinegar creates a great sauce for pork.

For this recipe, I bought a jar of apple butter. If you have time, you can make your own in the microwave. Combine cored and quartered McIntosh apples with brown sugar, cinnamon and a little nutmeg. Cover and microwave on high 10 minutes (for 1 pound apples) pass through a food mill and return to the microwave, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until thick. Add more cinnamon and nutmeg, if needed.

Other supermarket products that make this a fast, healthy dinner are lean, butterflied pork chops and quick-cooking barley.

Butterflying means cutting the pork chops almost in half and opening them like a book so they are thinner and cook more quickly. These can be found, already butterflied in many markets.

Barley usually takes about 40 minutes to cook, a quick-cooking version takes only 10 minutes. I combined it with frozen lima beans for a hearty side dish.

Helpful hints

Any type of pork chop can be used.

If pork chops are thick, cut them in half horizontally.

A meat thermometer should read 145 degrees when pork is cooked.

Fred Tasker's wine suggestions: Pork with apple butter is a sweet and savory dish that would go nicely with a slightly sweet white wine such as a chenin blanc.

PORK WITH APPLE BUTTER SAUCE

Olive oil spray

3/4 pound butterflied, boneless, center cut pork loin chops (about 1/2-inch thick)

2 teaspoons dried rosemary

1/3 cup apple butter

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

1 1/2-tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and spray with olive oil spray. Remove visible fat from pork and sprinkle with rosemary. Press rosemary into chops on both sides. Add to skillet and brown 2 minutes. Turn and brown 2 minutes. Lower heat to medium and cook 2 minutes. A meat thermometer should read 145 degrees.

Meanwhile mix apple butter, horseradish and cider vinegar together. Place pork chops on individual dinner plates and pour pan juices on top. Serve seasoned apple butter on the side. Makes 2 servings.

Per serving: 324 calories (24 percent from fat), 8.8 g fat (2.1 g saturated, 3.7 monounsaturated), 120 mg cholesterol, 37.7 g protein, 21.5 g carbohydrates, 1.5 g fiber, 140 mg sodium.

QUICK BARLEY AND LIMA BEANS

1/2 cup quick-cooking pearl barley

1 cup frozen lima beans

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring 1 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add barley and lower heat to medium. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Add a little more water if pan is dry. Add lima beans and continue to cook, covered, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Makes 2 servings.

Per serving: 314 calories (12 percent from fat), 4.3 g fat (0.7 g saturated, 2.6 g monounsaturated), no cholesterol, 11.2 g protein, 59.5 g carbohydrates, 12.7 g fiber, 47 mg sodium.

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