Remember, almost a year ago when my friends, my kids, and their friends helped move me into an apartment that needed a lot of work? Well, it still needs a lot of work and since I’m almost over the embarrassment of living in a place that desperately needs a paint job, I figured it was time to pay back my friends Mandy and Bjorn.
(Sadly, the landlord has not been the bolt of lightning in the home repair department I was hoping for. I’ve already painted three sets of casement windows, three inside doors, one outside door and one set of French doors, plus my bedroom walls, and I stripped the fireplace. He actually critiqued my painting of the windows, complaining that I should have used caulk instead of plastic wood. I almost shoved the sander down his throat. God, good FREE help is so hard to find, isn’t it? Clearly, my stern Italian woman stares are not intimidating him.)
Anyway, the same Mandy and Bjorn who lifted five times their weight in furnishings to help me move, deserved a home-cooked pat on the back. Plus, they’ve fed me more times than I can even stand to think about, so it was getting embarrassing. Almost a year later it was definitely time to return the favor, and how better to pay them back than in pork chops and poached pears?
The evening was a smashing success. Food magic happened, which is when everything comes out perfect and you get to bask in the afterglow of a good meal and happy friends. The evening ended with Mandy showing me a completely ridiculous TV show called “Little Britain,” which made me laugh in spite of my better judgement. They were grateful for the pork chops and poached pears and I will always be grateful for them.
1 bottle of Cabernet or Merlot
1/2 cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
6 ripe but not too soft D’Anjou pears
Bowl of water with lemon juice in it
Peel the pears and put them in the water with lemon juice. Be sure to cut the bottom of each pear so it sits flat. Pour the wine into a large pot. Add sugar and heat while stirring to melt the sugar. Add the cinnamon and cloves. (You can put them in cheesecloth and tie it, but I don’t bother. I just fish them out when the sauce is done thickening.) Place the pears, standing up, in the pot. Let the pears simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, basting every five minutes or so with the spiced wine mixture. (You can test them by piercing the bottom with a skewer to see if they’re tender enough, but usually 45 minutes does it.) Remove the pears, place them on a plate or in a bowl, cover them with plastic wrap and let them cool in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Let the wine mixture continue to cook, over low heat until it thickens to a syrup. (Watch it carefully, you don’t want it to burn because that is the sauce you pour over the pears!) Remove the cloves and cinnamon sticks. Place the pear on a plate, drizzle the sauce over it and garnish with dots of whipped cream. (Hopefully, better looking ones than mine.)
Stuffed Pork Chop Recipe (This is in another of my blogs called Mommy Meals)
1 package pork flavored Stove Top Stuffing (I know it’s pre-packaged, get over it.)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped celery (optional)
6 thick boneless pork chops (about 1 1/2 inches thick so you can stuff them. Costco has good ones)
6 strips of bacon (or more)
3 medium to large apples (any kind will work but I use Granny Smith)
3 medium to large brown onions
Seasoned bread crumbs, Progresso are good
Prepare the package of Stove Top according to directions. For this recipe you can add 1/2 cup of dried cranberries and diced celery to the mix once it’s prepared. Spray a large baking pan or glass dish with Pam spray. Peel the onions and slice them in half then lengthwise so you have long strips of onion. Place the onions in the pan. Next peel and core the apples. Slice them about 1/4 inch thick, add them to the pan mixing them together with your hands.
Slice the pork chops along one side and create a pocket so you can place the stuffing inside. Sprinkle the chop lightly with tenderizer inside and out, then take several spoons full of stuffing and stuff it inside the pocket. When it’s full, press it together and lay it on its side on top of the apple-onion mixture. Repeat with each chop.
Next sprinkle the top of the pork chops with seasoned bread crumbs. I just use Progresso Italian Style Bread Crumbs. Next take the bacon slices, cut them in half and place them on top of the stuffed chops sprinkled with bread crumbs. (The bacon fat drips onto the chops, keeping them moist, and adding more flavor.) Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake at 350 for about 3 hours. Chops should be golden brown. You can remove the bacon when the chops are done and place it underneath the chop when serving because who doesn’t love bacon?