This evening, after a beautiful fall afternoon in the field, I decided I wanted to create an equally beautiful fall meal for Paul and I. We’ve been really busy lately, and so most of our meals have been quick and easy, like chili and corn muffins, or hamburger casserole. But tonight, I wanted to have something nice ready for Paul when he came home from work.
I started by boiling some potatoes for one of Paul’s favorite foods: mashed potatoes. (Although I did realize after I started that given Thanksgiving is next week, perhaps I should have held off on the mashed potatoes, so we don’t OD before Turkey Day. Oh well.) Then, I began thinking about a vegetable side. Well, we didn’t actually have any vegetables, except lettuce, which would make a pretty boring salad all on its own. So instead of a vegetable, I decided to go with a fruit. I’d been wanting to try the idea of baked applesauce for a while, so I took out some fresh farm market apples, and quartered them into an oven-safe bowl. I added some pineapple juice for acidity and to help them keep their color (because I couldn’t find our lemon juice), a dash of nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon, and a scoop of brown sugar, and covered the bowl and put the apples in to bake at 400 degrees.
Now, to think about the meat. I had up to this point been thinking chicken, but applesauce, mashed potatoes – what goes better with applesauce and mashed potatoes than pork chops? And we still had frozen pork chops in our freezer from when we bought them on sale a few weeks ago. So pork it was. After I got them out to thaw, I began looking online for inspiration. I read recipe after recipe, and nothing seemed particularly fetching until I came across a recipe courtesy of some brewing company. Brewing company, I thought. Beer could be good to marinate pork chops. So I concocted a pork chop marinated based on a bottle of Upland Brewery’s Black Lager, cinnamon, chili powder, and Montreal steak seasoning (see below for the full recipe). Don’t ask me how I thought of that combination of spices. I just smell and guess and hope it goes over well. (And most of the time, I think I get lucky).
Let me emphasize: these pork chops are awesome! I don’t really like pork, but these are good. The lager seeps into the meat, and combined with the cinnamon, black pepper and chili powder, yields pork with a killer sweetness and a little kick. Dad, if you’re reading this, you would love these pork chops.
When Paul arrived home, I had pork chops and baked applesauce in the oven, mashed potatoes with garlic and onion on the stove, Vince Guaraldi Christmas music on the stereo, and a beer in my hand. What a lovely fall Friday evening!
Here are approximate recipes for tonight’s dinner.
“Beer Chops” (Black Lager Marinated Pork Chops)
12 oz. Black Lager beer
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1/2 teaspoon bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Montreal steak seasoning
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Mix ingredients for marinade and pour over 2-3 pork chops. Allow to sit for 30 minutes to an hour. Remove pork chops from marinade and place in baking dish. Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven, cover in tin foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Remove tin foil and enjoy!
3-5 apples, peel on, cut into quarters
2 tablespoons pineapple juice, lemon juice, or other acidic juice
nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice to taste
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
Place quartered apples into oven-safe bowl or baking dish that has a top. Pour juice over apples and mix well to coat. Sprinkle spices and sugar over apples. Cut butter into pieces and place over apples. Cover and place in 400-degree oven to bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and mix with a wisk to blend apples and spices. Serve hot or room temperature. Goes great with pork chops!
Garlic, Onion and Fontina Mashed Potatoes
3-4 medium to large sized Russet potatoes (or your favorite potato)
3/4 cup finely grated fontina cheese
1/2 finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 tablespoons butter
milk, cream or soy milk
salt and pepper to taste
Cut potatoes into chunks and place in cold water in a sauce pan. Bring potatoes and water to a gentle boil over medium heat and allow to cook until potatoes are easily speared with a fork and fully cooked. Drain potatoes and return to pot on low heat to allow remain water to boil off. Saute onions and garlic in olive oil, salt and pepper until onions are translucent. Add butter, milk (to desired consistency), and grated cheese to potatoes and mash together while still over heat. Add onions and garlic, and salt and pepper and mix well. Serve and enjoy!