06 October 2008

Autumnal Aphrodisiacs

There’s nothing quite as welcoming as a well-conceived cocktail after a long day. As the weather turns crisp, the warming effect of alcohol becomes especially comforting. Invite friends and take an evening to unwind with a reinvented happy hour.

Apple Crisp
Serves 4

- 1 tart, crisp apple, like Granny Smith

- Gin (Tanqueray has subdued floral and fruity notes that fit this drink perfectly)

- 1 small bottle of St. Germain liqueur (relatively new on market - flavors of apple, citrus, and even lychee!)

- 1 pint apple cider

- 4 large tumblers or “rocks” glasses

• Wash and cut the apple into 8 wedges

• Place two wedges of apple in a glass, fill rest of the way with ice cubes

• Fill the glass a quarter to a third full of gin, depending on desired strength

• Add 2 splashes of St. Germain, about 2 teaspoons

• Fill with apple cider, and mix with the end of a teaspoon or chopstick

After consuming the drink, the slices of apple at the bottom of the glass become frozen, intoxicating snacks. Serve with a cheese platter (Roquefort, sharp cheddar, brie), more slices of apple, and French baguette warmed in the oven.

As guests linger after savoring their drinks, consider making supper together by repeating many of the flavors from the cocktail. This recipe is for the world’s most tender pork chops, finished with a homemade applesauce. Serve alongside wild and long-grained rice simmered in chicken broth instead of plain water for a complete meal.

Pork Chops with Pan Apple Sauce
(with thanks to Tyler Florence, but my tweaks make it even better!)
Serves 4

Pork Chops:
- 4 extra-thick, bone-in pork chops (about 1 pound each)
- 1 bunch of thyme
- 1 can of apple concentrate, thawed
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
- 1 cup Kosher salt
- 2 Tb. olive oil

Spiced Apple Sauce:
- 3 tart, crisp apples, like Granny Smith
- ¼ cup red currants
- 2 tsp. brown sugar
- ½ tsp. whole cloves
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 lemon
- 2 Tb. butter

To make the pork:
• Preheat oven to 350˚F
• For unbelievably tender and flavorful meat, make a brine by filling a large mixing bowl with a gallon of water, ½ cup brown sugar, black peppercorns, 4 sprigs of thyme, apple concentrate, and 1 cup of Kosher salt. Add the pork chops, cover with plastic wrap, and let it sit in the fridge for anywhere from 30 minutes up to 2 hours
• When ready, take the pork out of the brine and pat dry with paper towels
• In a large frying pan with a drizzle of olive oil over medium-high heat, brown the chops on each side for 4 minutes
• Lay the pork in a baking pan, and cover each with a sprig of thyme from the brine
• Bake in the oven for 30 minutes
• Let the meat sit for 10 minutes
• Serve 1 pork chop smothered in applesauce per person, with rice on the side as a perfect accompaniment

To Make the Sauce:
• Start the sauce 5 minutes before the meat comes out of the oven
• Core, deseed, and cut the apples into 8 wedges
• Using the same pan as for the meat, melt butter over medium heat. Add the apple, currants, cloves, mustard, cinnamon, 2 tsp. of brown sugar, and juice of one lemon to make the accompanying applesauce
• Simmer for 10 minutes, until the apples begin to break down. Before serving the sauce, discard the whole cloves

No comments: