Drunken Pig in an Orchard! Yes!!! What a great recipe title! Now it may surprise you that this does not actually refer to a drunken local lad, who after having one too many pints celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, stumbles into your orchard and can’t seem to find his way out… No, what I’m actually talking about here are cider cooked pork chops nestled into a savory sweet bed of apples and sauerkraut and covered in creamy Irish cheddar and nutty breadcrumbs. A dish which certainly evokes thoughts of Autumn, bonfires and the yearly apple harvest, but it also well suited for your St. Patrick’s Day feasting.
All of the ingredients used in this dish are abundant in Ireland and have been part of the cuisine there for thousands of years. Indeed there is archaeological evidence which indicates that apples have been grown there for over 5000 years and cider making stretches back at least 2000 years if not more. We also know that wild boar was being consumed in Ireland as far back as 7000 BC. Now I will admit, I don’t know how Irish sauerkraut is. Certainly cabbage abounds there, so it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine it bunch of it getting pickled, or rather fermented – you know…kind of like those drunken St. Patrick’s Day revelers wandering about your orchard! Any hoo…sauerkraut is good for you, full of antioxidants and probiotics, not to mention vitamins B,C and K. So eat up!
This wonderful sweet/sour/savory dish comes from my friend Theresa’s debut cookbook: Fruit on the Table: Seasonal Recipes from the Green Apron Kitchen.
Theresa’s company, The Green Apron, is an award winning artisan preserve company which she runs from her family’s orchards at Derryclough located near Ballingarry, County Limerick in Ireland.
This year, I’ve been delighted to share her recipes for Irish Whiskey Marmalade Tarts, Irish Whiskey Marmalade Cocktails, Batley Cake and now her Drunken Pig in an Orchard. All of these gems, plus so many more can be found in Fruit on the Table. Certainly you must be convinced of how much you absolutely NEED a copy of her cookbook by now. T’would be an awesome St. Patrick’s Day gift for your favorite cook…just saying. And remember if you find yourself anywhere near Limerick Ireland on a Saturday, make sure you stop into the Milk Market and visit The Green Apron shop which is always chock full of Theresa’s award winning jams and preserves.
That being said, I’ve gotta go now and shoo those tipsy hooligans out of the orchard!
Drunken Pig in an Orchard
- 4 large cooking apples ( peeled, cored and cut into bite-sized pieces)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 Tablespoons slight melted apple jelly or honey
- 100 grams (3 1/2 oz.) walnuts (chopped and toasted)
- 200 grams (7 oz) Irish cheddar (grated)
- 110 grams ( 4 oz) fresh breadcrumbs
- 900 ml (30 fl. oz) sauerkraut
- 2 medium onions (finely chopped)
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 4 – 6 pork chops
- 150 ml (1/4 pint) cider
- 1 Tablespoon wholegrain mustard or sweet yellow mustard
Butter a large casserole dish and set aside. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F/Gas 5)
Put the apples, spices, salt, flour and jelly (or honey) in a bowl and mix together. Set aside.
In a small bowl, mix the walnuts, half of the grated cheese and the breadcrumbs together. Set aside.
Drain the sauerkraut in a colander and rinse it in water to ensure that all the vinegary liquid is gone. Set this aside too.
In a large frying pan, cook the chopped onions in the butter over a medium heat for about 5 minutes until they start to soften.
Add the pork chops and cook for about 5 minutes, until they are starting to brown.
Now add the cider and the mustard and cook until the chops are cooked through, which should take about another 5 minutes.
Add the sauerkraut to the frying pan and mix everything together, making sure the chops don’t fall apart.
Cook the whole lot until the cider has all reduced down and there is no liquid left in the pan.
Put half the apple mixture on the bottom of the casserole. Cover this with the pork chops and half the sauerkraut. Sprinkle with the rest of the grated cheese. Put the rest of the apples on the cheese, then the rest of the sauerkraut, then top with the nutty breadcrumb mixture.
Bake covered (I use tinfoil) for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 20 minutes.
Drunken Pig in an Orchard brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)
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