Bi-Rite’s Pork Cutlets with Sweet Bing Cherries

Cherries for dinner? Oh, yes!

Why just bake galettes, pies and cobblers with fresh cherries when you can enjoy their snappy sweetness in savory sensations, too?

Case in point, “Pan-Fried Pork Cutlets with Bing Cherries.”

It’s a recipe from “Bi-Rite Market’s Eat Good Food” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy.

The cookbook, written by Bi-Rite Owner Sam Mogannam and food writers Dabney Gough, takes you through the history of San Francisco’s most celebrated grocery store, where you’ll find not only top-notch produce but hard-to-find ingredients that are the darling of chefs.

The book takes you through each store department, teaching you the low-down on how to read labels, discern ingredients and use them at their best in a myriad of recipes.

Fruit takes to pork like peanut butter to chocolate. Cherries are no exception. Yes, you’ll have to pit them, but you use only about 18 of them, which doesn’t take that much time at all.

This can be a do-able weeknight dish because it’s essentially just pan-fried pork chops with an easy, fastร‚ย  pan sauce to pour over them.

The recipe says six boneless pork chops feed two, but if you’re a moderate eater, you’ll find this can easily feed three. Especially if you cut your pork chops slightly thicker than the recipe calls for — whether intentionally or not, as I did. Just be advised if they are thicker, it’ll take a few more minutes in the pan to cook them than the recipe indicates.

The pork chops are rather basic — just seasoned with salt and pepper. It’s the sauce that really makes this dish pop. First, who can resist the gorgeous burgundy hue of Bing cherries? Not only do they lend dazzling color, but amazing flavor when cooked with chopped shallot, red wine vinegar, chicken broth, fresh sage and a dab of Dijon. It’s essentially a gussied up gastrique — a sauce made by deglazing the pan with zippy vinegar, then reducing it all until syrupy. The result is a summery, subtle sweet-sour sauce.

By all means, have that slice of cherry pie for dessert — but save some of that luscious fruit to enjoy in your main course, too.

Pan-Fried Pork Cutlets with Bing Cherries

(Serves 2)

3/4 cup Bing cherries (about 18)

6 center-cut, 1/2-inch-thick boneless pork chops (aka cutlets; about 14 ounces total)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 large shallot, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon cider or red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage

1 cup salt-free chicken stock or salt-free broth

Pit cherries and cut half of them in half. Set aside.

Season pork with 3/4 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper and let come to room temperature.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add as many pork chops as will fit in a roomy single layer and let cook undisturbed for 2 minutes. When the first side is golden brown, flip and cook until just firm and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer pork to a plate, cover loosely with foil, and repeat with any remaining chops.

Lower heat to medium and add shallot and half the butter. Cook, stirring frequently until the shallots start to soften, about 1 minute. Add vinegar, Dijon, sage and a good pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are soft and the pan is almost dry. Add stock along with any juices that have accumulated under the cutlets. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Add cherries and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced to one-fourth of its original volume, 3 to 4 minutes.

Remove from heat, season with more salt if desired, and swirl in the remaining half of the butter. Pour sauce over chops and serve immediately.

From “Bi-Rite Market’s Eat Good Food” by Sam Mogannam and Dabney Gough

Another Recipe Spotlighting Fresh Cherries: Cherry Focaccia with Rosemary

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