Pear and pork go hand in hand

COOKING FOR TWO

Entree: Pear nectar and chutney keep chops moist and flavorful.

February 03, 2002|By Bev Bennett | Bev Bennett,Special to the Sun

In the "old school" of meat cookery, pork was never pink. It wasn't a fashion statement; it was a safety matter. High internal meat temperatures were necessary to destroy trichinosis. But now, thanks to modern feeding practices, the parasite no longer is a problem. Were it present, it would be destroyed, in any event, at an internal temperature of 137 degrees when the meat is cooked. That means pork can be cooked to 160 degrees for medium doneness to preserve its juiciness.

Unfortunately, a lot of people still insist on heat-blasting pork until it's ashen and as hard as the dinner plate, and nothing will persuade them to change their ways. And, some well-intentioned cooks inadvertently "overdo" pork. But the results are still the same: dry meat.

There is an easy way to repair the damage that overcooking does, and that's to serve pork with a topping that adds moisture. During the winter, while pears are at their peak, Pear Chutney makes an excellent partner for pork. The mixture of fruit, sugar and vinegar blends into a piquant flavor.

In this recipe, pork chops are simmered in pear nectar to both flavor and moisten the meat. But just in case you get carried away and cook the meat too long, there's always chutney.

Distributed by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate International, a division of Tribune Media Services.

Pork Chops With Pear Chutney

Makes 2 servings

Pear Chutney (recipe follows)

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon paprika

salt and pepper to taste

cooking spray

2 center-cut pork chops, about 3 / 4 inch thick

1/2 to 3 / 4 cup pear nectar

Prepare Pear Chutney.

While it simmers, combine curry powder, paprika, salt and pepper on a plate. Lightly coat both sides of pork chops with seasoning mixture.

Coat small nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat 1 minute. Add pork chops and brown 2 minutes per side. Add 1/2 cup pear nectar. Cover and simmer 7 to 8 minutes. If nectar is evaporating too fast, add remaining 1 / 4 cup. Turn pork over and simmer another 7 to 8 minutes or until tender and cooked through.

To serve, arrange 1 pork chop on each of 2 plates. Serve Pear Chutney on the side.

Pear Chutney

Makes about 2 cups

2 teaspoons oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 shallot, minced

1 large pear, cored, peeled and diced into 1/2 -inch pieces

1 / 4 cup diced crystallized ginger

1/2 cup dried tart cherries

1/2 cup pear nectar

1 teaspoon packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

1 / 4 teaspoon salt

Heat oil in small pan. Add garlic and shallot and saute 2 to 3 minutes over medium heat. Add pear, ginger, dried cherries and pear nectar and simmer, covered, 15 minutes, or until pears are tender and mixture is slightly pulpy.

Stir in brown sugar, vinegar and salt and simmer 1 minute to blend flavors.

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