Friday, March 9, 2012

Digging Deeper into the Liquor Cabinet

Did that just make me sound like an alcoholic or something?  One of the quirks of being on Facebook far more often than I should is that it convinces me that all of my friends are alcoholics.  People do dearly love to talk about drinking.  Even I probably sound like a huge lush on Facebook and I rarely drink more than a couple of glasses of wine or a cocktail on weekends.

Booze does make for great pan sauces though.  Many spirits I don't normally enjoy straight up make regular appearances in my dinner. 

I have been falling into another rut.  I know I haven't been posting many new recipes lately.  I have found myself in another creativity lag. Plus this spring is turning out to be a very busy one for me.  I haven't had time to sit down and draft new recipes.  I cook large amounts of my favorite standbys and eat them over two or three nights between work and dance classes and singing classes and theater group board meetings and trips to the gym. I need something fresh before TERP grows stale.

I decided that for my next new recipe I would look into the liquor cabinet and use a liquor I had never cooked with before.  I found that was harder than I had thought it would be.  I've done bourbon, brandy, port, sherry, and rum.  What was left? Vodka?  I don't know what to make with vodka other than penne vodka and Jello shots.  Scotch?  Ick! Most of what I have in my cabinet other than the basic spirits is sweet liqueurs.  Would they be too sweet for a savory dinner?

I decided to go with Cointreau.  Citrus flavors go well with meats.  I could use it with pork.  People cook pork with far sweeter substances than Cointreau.  I've seen pork cooked with root beer and Dr. Pepper . Surely Cointreau wouldn't be too sickeningly sweet.

I searched the web and found that most Cointreau pork recipes were even sweeter as they veered into barbecue sauce territory and contained ingredients like ketchup and molasses.  (Now that I think of it, Cointreau would be great in a barbecue sauce.  That's just not what I was looking for in my recipe.)  Other recipes had more of an Asian or tropical flair.  Again, I just wasn't feeling that.

I wanted to keep this as fresh tasting and savory as possible, so I tried some different ingredients.

Caramelized onions. 

Also some thyme, rosemary, fresh OJ, and orange zest.

The flavor was really intense here.  The onions were delicious glazed with the sauce.  I don't think it was too sweet either.  I would definitely try this on chicken as well.

Cointreau Pork Chops

  • 2-4 thick cut boneless pork loin chops
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbl olive oil
  • Juice and zest of one orange
  • 1/2 cup Cointreau
  • 1 Tbl chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tbl fresh thyme leaves
  • Salt and pepper
Heat olive oil over low heat in large skillet.  Add the onions and cook over low heat until very soft, sweet, and golden - about 30 minutes.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Increase heat to medium.  Sprinkle chops with salt and pepper.  Brown well on both sides.  Add juice, herbs, and Cointreau to the pan.  Simmer for about 15 minutes or until cooked through.  If the sauce reduces too much, add a little chicken broth.

Remove chops from pan and keep warm.  Simmer sauce a few minutes more to reduce.  Adjust for seasonings.

Pour sauce over pork chops and serve.


The Blonde Duck said...

Sounds delish!

Emily said...

I like the way this sounds! I'm not really a big drinker, either. I find myself drinking less and less.