Cooking On A Budget: Pork Chops Marsala with Apricot Sauce

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Pork Chops Marsala with Apricot Sauce

Yum

We have the coldest February on record in the state of Connecticut. Waking up to minus 7 degrees F, a foot and a half of snow still on the ground, but thankfully no significant wind to speak of and the sun is shining is the light at the end of what appears to be the longest winter of my life! Every fall I go through the dread of the beautiful colored leaves falling off from high winds and rains to leave us with barren trees and grass that looses its' chlorophyll. I've never minded the snow especially around Christmas when it's supposed to have snow, but now I am officially sick of seeing the stuff and my husband is sick of plowing and shoveling and sanding and spreading ice melt. We are so over this winter!

The one thing we are not sick of is the comfort meals we indulge in during the colder months. Soups, stews, casseroles and of course delicious pork chop dinners with mashed potatoes! I make a pork chop dinner that I loved as a child and still do. It's slow braised pork chop with onions. That dish has become one of my husband's favorites and in fact he loves to cook it.

We got a deal on pork a short time ago so naturally we had to freeze some of it and that included packages of bone-in pork loin chops. I think my husband was fully anticipating the usual go to braised pork with onions but I had other plans. Sometimes you just have to change up your menus and try something new because you never know if it's going to be enough of a hit to have your family ask you to make it again!

For inspiration I scoured my cook book collection and landed on a recipe from Williams-Sonomas Steak and Chop cookbook. They have a recipe for pork chops using Marsala, dried apricots and other ingredients and it sounded delicious. As I checked my pantry and stash of booze I discovered I had the Marsala, but sadly no dried apricots. However I did have a jar of apricot preserves and decided I would attempt the dish without the dried apricots. What the apricots would lend to the dish is another texture to the sauce. It's fine the way I've revised it. And my husband who as I've said is my number one critic and doesn't hold back if he does not like something said at the end of the meal: "I really liked it and wish I had a second one." I only cooked two as that is generally plenty for us old folks for protein. I have written the recipe for four pork chops because there's enough "sauce" and plenty of spice rub for four. Also I love bone-in pork chops but this works with boneless as well.
  • 4 bone-in center cut pork chops (or use boneless)
  • 1 tbsp. oil (regular olive oil or corn oil)
The spice rub:
  • 1 tbsp. paprika
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
The other ingredients for the sauce:
  • 3/4 cup dry Marsala
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
 Just a note about the fennel. I had fennel seeds and don't own a spice or coffee grinder so I used an old mortar and pestle we have that I actually think was used for pharmaceutical applications eons ago. But be sure to break down the fennel seeds as best you can.

The fennel seed comes from the perennial herb fennel that has yellow flowers and feathery leaves and houses the seeds. Fennel bulbs and the fennel fronds are used widely in cooking as are the seeds. A fresh fennel seed will be greenish in color and has an anise-like flavor. It's a plant that was indigenous to the Mediterranean but is now available in many parts of the world. Grown closely to the shores here in the states and other areas of the world.
  1. After you have ground the fennel place that and the other spices in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Rub the chops on both sides with the spices and let them sit for a while; about 30 minutes or longer if you have that kind of time.
  3. Set a deep skillet or fry pan over medium high heat for a good minute or so. Add in the oil and swirl it around the pan and let it get shimmering hot.
  4. Add in the pork chops. Sear on both sides for about 2 minutes, adjusting the heat down a bit if they are getting too dark. Turn the heat down to medium low and cook for another 5 minutes, turning about half way through. Remove to a waiting plate and cover with foil.
  5. Add in the Marsala and cook over medium high heat, scraping up all of the good bits. Cook down for about 1-2 minutes and that will burn off the alcohol but intensify the flavor.
  6. Next, add in the lemon juice and apricot preserves and chicken broth. Keep stirring to break down the preserves. Cook for just a couple of minutes and the sauce is ready.*
*If you want a thicker sauce use one tablespoon of corn starch and 3 tablespoons of broth and mix well. Let the sauce come up to a boil and slowly pour in the slurry and whisk until you have the thickness you desire.

Serve with mashed potatoes and a vegetable of your choice for a delicious and comforting meal.


Due to getting the pork on sale at $1.00 per pound, this meal did not break the bank. It cost approximately $7.89 to make.
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