Thinking outside the (blueberry) box: Pork Chops with Blueberries and Rosemary

by Terry B on November 30, 2013

Pork chops are quickly seared, then finished in a sauce of blueberries, rosemary, shallots, whole grain mustard and red wine. Recipe below.

blue kitchen pork chops blueberries

Search for blueberry recipes on the Google and you come up with pies, pancakes, muffins, scones, cobblers, crumbles, crisps, buckles… you get the idea. All are absolutely delicious, of course, but this kind of typecasting troubles the folks at the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council. They’d like to see home cooks be a little more adventurous in their use of blueberries.

So they invited bloggers to participate in a contest to create recipes that use blueberries in fresh ways. The contest, called Blueberries Meet Their Match, specifically challenged participants to combine blueberries with one of four possible ingredients—bananas, coconut, balsamic vinegar or rosemary. I chose rosemary and immediately headed in a savory direction.

Well, I say immediately, but the reason for this post appearing on a Saturday instead of the usual Wednesday is that today is the LAST POSSIBLE DAY TO ENTER. It seems nothing inspires me like a deadline. And while it’s a contest, you don’t have to vote for me. In fact, you can’t. Winners will be chosen (in January) by a panel of food professionals.

Blueberries could get by on looks and taste alone. The beautiful, indigo, tart/sweet berries are the second most popular fruit in the country. But they’re also really, really, really good for you. They’re one of the most antioxidant-rich foods you’ll find, so they offer protection against heart disease and cancer. Blueberries are also high in fiber and vitamin C. They may even reverse short-term memory loss and improve motor skills. You can learn more about blueberries’ health benefits at the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council website. You’ll also find more recipes there.

For this recipe, I took advantage of how well pork plays with sweet flavors, and I enhanced the blueberries’ tartness with whole grain mustard and red wine. The butter and shallots help take it all in a savory direction. Dry brining the chops for 15 minutes or so with coarse kosher salt helps keep them tender and juicy. I explain the process more thoroughly in this post.

Pork Chops with Blueberries and Rosemary
Serves 2 (or 3 or 4—See Kitchen Notes)

2 bone-in pork chops, about 3/4-inch thick, 8 ounces each (see Kitchen Notes)
coarse kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, divided
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped shallots (about 2)
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (thawed if frozen)
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar

Dry brine the pork chops. Salt generously with coarse kosher salt, as much as a teaspoon on each side. Set aside for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse chops under cold running water and pat thoroughly dry with paper towels.

Season chops on both sides with freshly ground black pepper and some of the rosemary (maybe a third), pressing gently to help rosemary stick to chops. DO NOT ADD ANY MORE SALT. Heat olive oil in a large, lidded nonstick skillet over medium-high flame. When pan is hot, sear chops for 3 minutes on one side. Turn and sear for 2 minutes on the other side, reducing heat to medium. Transfer chops to a plate.

If your chops produced a lot of fat (mine did not), pour off all but 1 tablespoon. Add butter to pan and swirl to combine with fat in pan. Add shallots and cook until just softening, about 3 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid over-browning. Stir in remaining rosemary and cook until fragrant, about 45 seconds.

Add blueberries, wine, mustard and sugar to pan and stir to combine. Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Blueberries will start to burst. Return chops to pan, nestling them into the blueberry mixture. DO NOT spoon blueberries over the chops unless you want said chops to resemble dark blue back-to-school dungarees. Cover pan and cook until chops are warmed through, 4 to 5 minutes.

Plate chops and spoon blueberry mixture over and around them. Serve.

Kitchen Notes

Serves two, three, four… I cooked two pork chops for this recipe, but there is enough blueberry sauce that you could make three or even four chops and have enough blueberries.

About those chops. We’re big fans of bone-in pork chops. They look pretty on the plate, and the bone actually adds to the flavor of the dish you’re cooking. But you could also use boneless chops.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Chen November 30, 2013 at 9:44 pm

Can dried rosemary leaves be used instead of fresh. If yes what would be the quantity?

Terry B November 30, 2013 at 10:02 pm

Chen, fresh is better. The dried leaves are more needlelike and kind of crunchy. I tend to try to use dried rosemary in stews or other braises that cook for a long time. But if you don’t have fresh, use 2 teaspoons of dried. Chop or break the leaves up before using.

John@Kitchen Riffs November 30, 2013 at 10:16 pm

I was surprised to see you post today! But surprises now and again make life more interesting, no? ;-) Love the idea of blueberries and pork – I’ve had that combo in restaurants, but never played with it in my own kitchen. You’ve convinced me I should. The rosemary adds something nice, too. Good stuff here – hope you win. Thanks for this.

altadenahiker December 1, 2013 at 8:10 pm

Thank you for the salt tip, in caps. I err on the side of salt, which can spoil everything. The blueberries and the mustard — I think that’s brilliant.

Terry B December 1, 2013 at 9:45 pm

I hope you do try it, John. As I was cooking this, tweaking the sauce as I went, I thought it would be good. But this was what we call restaurant good: if we paid for it in a restaurant, we would be happy we’d ordered it.

Altadenahiker, dry brining with salt is especially great for tenderizing cheap, but delicious lamb shoulder chops. And we love to cook with mustard; it does a beautiful disappearing act, enhancing the flavor of whatever you cook without you even usually knowing it’s there. There was no mustard taste whatsoever in the blueberry sauce, but its presence made a huge difference.

Hannah- December 4, 2013 at 5:50 pm

I love this idea of blueberries and pork, it’s actually something I have never seen before! I would definitely try though I think it’s much more interesting than the typical apple sauce :)

MCC December 9, 2013 at 7:44 pm

My husband and I made this dish the day after you posted it — we were fatigued from Thanksgiving food and needed a palate-shaker-upper. This delicious dish provided exactly what we needed !

Terry B December 9, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Thanks, Hannah!

MCC, so glad you liked it! And I know what you mean about Thanksgiving fatigue. Friday night, we got carryout from our favorite neighborhood Mexican place.

Zach January 14, 2014 at 11:41 pm

LOVE the blueberry sauce used here! I did a bit of a different prep, using a sous vide method for the pork and making the sauce separately, and it was absolutely fantastic. To compensate for not cooking the sauce in a pan where there was some pork fat, I added some salt, pepper, and fish sauce to up the umami. Worked like a charm, and the sauce was wonderfully balanced. I will definitely be putting it on everything I can possibly think of now. How about buckwheat waffles? I think that may have to happen.

Terry B January 15, 2014 at 9:55 pm

Zach, that sounds like a delicious adaptation! The waffles sound like a great idea too.

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