Autumn is well and truly here. My driveway is covered in leaves that need raking every second day; the squirrels are super active, busily burying acorns in my lawn; and the cat is starting to look like one of those fancy outdoor puffer jackets. I wish I could magically grow a dense coat to get me through winter! As I’m not a feline, I have to turn to other things for comfort and warmth. Things like cider, and butter, and cream…
When days are balmy, pork chops go on the braai with salt, pepper and maybe a squeeze of lemon. Now it’s time for the pan. These pork chops with their decadent cider and mushroom cream sauce need precious little else. A few boiled baby potatoes and a large handful of watercress kissed with a squirt of lemon and I’m happy.
All you need is…
150g punnet of baby portabellini mushrooms (Woolies has)
4 thick-cut pork chops
4 sprigs thyme
2 large unpeeled cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup dry cider (I used good ol’ Hunter’s Dry)
½ cup fresh cream
sea salt flakes (Maldon is my go-to)
freshly ground black pepper
baby jacket potatoes, for serving
watercress dressed with lemon, for serving
Heat a large frying pan and add two tablespoons of butter. Give the garlic cloves a hard whack with the side of a chef’s knife to break them open, but do not peel them. Add the garlic cloves, thyme and mushrooms to the pan and fry until the mushrooms start to brown. Remove and set aside. Add a bit more butter to the pan, lightly salt the pork chops and fry until cooked. (NB: you want high heat here as the chops need to lightly caramelize during cooking.) Remove pork chops and cover with foil to keep warm.
Add the flour to the same pan and stir until it disappears in the fat. Now add the cider and stir well to lift off all those wonderful brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the cream and boil for a few minutes so the flour cooks out and starts thickening the cream sauce. Taste and add salt and pepper. (You want to be generous here, remember that salt is the magic ingredient that really brings out flavour. I also like a peppery bite, so I added a whole teaspoon.)
Add the mushrooms to the cream sauce along with any juices that collected during standing. Also add any meat juices to the sauce. Stir through and spoon over pork chops. Dig in.