When I was 10 years old, I knew I was “big city”-bound.
My whole life I grew up in rural Ohio. Going to the Toledo Museum of Art or the Toledo Zoo was a big deal to me. I would visit places, and was determined to move to Chicago or New York.
When I was 21 years old, I knew I was Philadelphia-bound.
When I started dating my boyfriend (now husband) in college, he was moving from upstate New York to Philadelphia. It wasn’t even a question in my mind that I was going to follow him. That last year was spent doing nothing but preparing and daydreaming about my new life. (And maaaaybe, finishing up my degree.) I had a hope chest and I started collecting things for my new life: apartment decor, reusable shopping bags, comfortable-but-stylish walking shoes and Big City Cooking by Matthew Kenney.
When I was 22, I moved to Philly.
So here I’ve stayed since then. It’s been years now and I definitely consider Philly my home. It’s what I wanted out of a location: culture, nightlife, opportunities, unique experiences… but one of the biggest things Philly has done for me is encourage my foodie lifestyle. The restaurants are amazing. The beer community here is like no other. But ultimately, I have access to all sorts of ingredients and ideas that I wouldn’t have in my home town in Ohio.
I feel that it’s time I revisited that cookbook I bought for my hope chest. I get so caught up in the buttloads of recipes I always want to make, that I often forget to go back and visit what got me excited in the first place. So, on a chilly fall day, in my pjs with my candles and my cats, I curl up and browse Big City Cooking and pick out something perfect for the mood. Hope you guys try it too.
Maple-Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops with Pecans
recipe adapted from Big City Cooking by Matthew Kenney
1 c maple syrup
1 tbsp + 1 tsp light brown sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ cup pecans, toasted
4 pork chops, 1 inch thick
freshly ground black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil for brushing pork and apples
1 green apple, cored but not peeled, and sliced into discs (with holes in them)
In a medium bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and cinnamon.
Place a skillet over medium heat. Add pecans and 2 tbsp of the maple mixture. Stir until the nuts are coated and cook until they are glazed. (About 3 minutes.) Remove the nuts from the heat and spread them out to cool. Chop coarsely and set aside.
Season the pork with salt and pepper on both sides. Brush with a little olive oil.
Place a grill pan on the stove over medium heat. Grill for 7 to 8 minutes per side. About 5 minutes before the meat is fully cooked, brush them with the maple glaze. Turn them as you go.
When the chops are cooked, remove them from the grill and allow them to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
Lightly brush your apples with oil and season with salt. Place them on the grill pan, 2 to 3 minutes per side. They’ll soften and get grill marks.
Just before serving, brush the pork liberally with more maple glaze. Serve with the apple slices and sprinkle with the pecans and ginger.
Serving Suggestions: The cookbook has a great polenta recipe. I shortcut it though. I bought a tube ‘o polenta from Trader Joe’s, dumped into a pot and mashed it up with a half cup of water, heated it. When it was creamy, I added in a couple ounces of diced brie, some salt and pepper and a bunch of rosemary. I served the pork on the bed of polenta. I paired it with an uber fresh, wet-hopped IPA by Philadelphia Brewing Company.