Thursday, July 16, 2015

Pork Chops with Fresh Cherry Salsa

Cherry season is much-celebrated around these parts but also so short-lived! It seems like the cherries are ready for the picking one day and then completely gone and nowhere to be found the next! When the first round of cherries began hitting the stores a couple weeks ago, I thought the price was so decent that I went a little crazy and bought a few pounds worth. I brought them home and everyone was eager to dive in and try some. They were not good. Pretty tasteless actually. If I had been blindfolded and fed one of those cherries, I might have guessed that it was a black olive. Needless to say, I was disappointed and resolved to not waste any more money on bad fruit.

A week or so after that, we decided to take a family drive to small historical town about an hour away. We parked and took along walk about the cute little town, soaking in the history of the place. The kids grew a bit cranky and thirsty (since it was blisteringly hot), so we stopped at a small grocery store to pick up some refreshments. Inside, they had a bunch of sweet cherries on sale for a shockingly low price. They looked gorgeous and I could not resist buying about five bags. However, this time they were the most delicious local cherries I have ever tried. I was so happy we bought so many of them! We have been enjoying them as a healthy snack for a while now.

I did want to experiment a bit with the cherries since we had them and decided to make a fresh cherry salsa to serve alongside our pork chops for dinner. It was a great compliment to the pork - the sweetness in the cherries was a nice accent to the natural sweetness of the meat and the acidity of the lemon juice and balsamic vinegar in the salsa made everything taste so fresh and healthy! I loved this meal. It was a great way to dress up a basic, boneless pork chop! The kids were also pretty wild about the "cherry sauce." Served with a chopped salad and some fresh vegetables, it was a perfect summer meal.

Pork Chops with Fresh Cherry Salsa
adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

4-6 boneless pork chops
Salt and Pepper
1-1/2lbs cherries, pitted and roughly chopped in a food processor
1/2 cup minced red onion
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the pork chops, prepare a brine using the proportions of 1 tablespoon of table salt + 1 tablespoon sugar for every 1 cup of water. Whisk vigorously to dissolve the sugar and salt. Submerge the chops in the brine and allow to sit for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours. Remove, pat dry with paper towels, and then season with pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Preheat the broiler of the oven at the same time. Sear the chops 1-2 minutes on each side, just until lightly browned. Then, transfer the chops to the oven to cook under the broiler until the internal temperature reads 145 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Let the chops rest, tented with foil, for 10 minutes before serving.

For the salsa, combine all the ingredients together in a bowl. Serve generous portions of the salsa spooned over a pork chop. Enjoy!

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