A couple of weeks ago, over coffee, my friend Sharon passed along this very elegant, simple and autumnal dinner idea: Empty half a bag of cranberries (rinsed and sorted, of course) into a baking dish, sprinkle a bunch of sugar on top of that, add a layer of 3-4 pork chops, and add remaining berries and another layer of sugar, cover dish with foil, bake at 350 for one hour.
Sounded like a champion weeknight dinner to me. I actually made it Saturday night, using thick boneless chops and it baked alongside a sunshine squash. Dubious, I did add a half-cup of water to pork and berry mixture.
On the positive side, by the time the baby was asleep in his crib, I had a beautiful crimson, steaming dish was ready to serve.
The berries added tremendous excitement to this simple dish, and here’s why: I used far less sugar than one would put in traditional cranberry compote — no more than a 1/3 cup, I guesstimate. It wasn’t sweet and that was actually a good thing. I experienced cranberries in a whole new way. Baking tempered the fruit’s’ aggressive, face scrunching tartness. Flavored with pork fat and juices, it became this a lovely dry but slightly savory sauce that just shouted of all things autumn.
As for the meat, it was well-cooked, but tough and tasteless as cardboard. My thoughts: I would brine the pork for an hour. Serving time for a weeknight meal would be later, but really no less inconvenient.
This dish could be a winner, folks. So, reader, I invite you to ponder, experiment and report back.