French in a Flash: Pork Chops with Norman Cider Cream Sauce and Thyme

RECIPE: Pork Chops with Norman Cider Cream Sauce and Thyme
Creamy, Fast Normandy Apple Cider Pork Chops

Creamy, Fast Normandy Apple Cider Pork Chops

These days, living in London just a hop, skip, and a jump from the Channel, I’m milking my family in Normandy for all they’re worth.  Just don’t tell them I’m only visiting so I can get my hands on their fantastic cidre buché!  It translates to ‘corked cider’ which doesn’t really do much to describe it.  Imagine the Champagne of ciders.  Apples instead of grapes, but just as dry and elegant and bubbly.  Stunning.  Local.  Pressed from all the orchards that fly by the car windows as you drive along.  If Champagne is a beautiful blonde, then cidre buché is a stunning redhead: more elusive, but also more characterful.  Worth looking for.  And you can find it.

I don’t think any meal I’ve ever made has lived up to the name of this column more honestly than this one: it is so French, and so fast.  I take rustic bone-in pork chops and season them with sea salt, cracked pepper, and leaves of fresh thyme.  Sear them off, then deglaze the pan with that dry Normandy apple cider.  It bubbles down into a dry but fruity, delicious sauce, full of the pan juices from the pork, and mellowed with a touch of Normandy cream.  It’s my version of pork chops with apple sauce.  And it’s the kind of French cooking that I love: the kind you’d fine in front of the fireplace in someone’s house, not on the menu of a fancy restaurant.  Rustic, classic, and somehow also so current.  Bon app!

Excerpted from my weekly column French in a Flash on Serious Eats.

Pork Chops with Norman Cider Cream Sauce and Thyme
serves 2

Creamy, Fast Normandy Apple Cider Pork ChopsINGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/2-pound bone-in pork chops
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 12 ounces fresh mini gnocchi
  • 2/3 cup dry Breton or Norman cidre buché
  • 1/4 cup cream

PROCEDURE

Take the pork out of the fridge 15 minutes before you want to use it.  Cut off the fatty rind if there is one.  Season the chops all over with salt, pepper, and thyme, pressing the seasoning gently into the meat so it sticks.

Preheat a wide skillet or sauté pan with the olive oil over medium heat.  Bring a pot of salted water to boil for the gnocchi.  Add the pork to the hot skillet and cook 5 minutes on each side, until nicely golden brown.  Add the gnocchi and cook 2 minutes until it floats to the top of the water, and drain.

With the pork still in the pan, add the cider and then the cream.  Cook another 5 minutes until the pork is cooked through and the sauce is reduced.  Toss the gnocchi in the sauce with the pork chops and serve right away with a light green salad.

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Categories: 30 Minutes, Cheap, Easy, Eat, French in a Flash, Main Courses, Meat, Recipes, Series

11 Responses to French in a Flash: Pork Chops with Norman Cider Cream Sauce and Thyme

  1. Meredith says:

    Can’t wait to make this this weekend. Long, long ago, when I was studying abroad in Caen we had a version of this and I never could quite recreate. Thanks!

  2. Rachel says:

    I feel horrid for even asking this, but could you suggest any substitute for the cidre buché? I really doubt I’m going to be able to find it in my little prairie town, and I have some bone-in pork chops in my freezer that would be perfect for this!

    • Kerry says:

      Hi! Okay, this may not be easy. Let me think. You could definitely try it with standard American hard cider, which would be delicious, just significantly sweeter. Another idea would be to use a really dry white wine and a splash of no-sugar-added apple juice or cider. I would opt for the latter to keep the sweetness down. I’m so sorry to use an esoteric ingredient. Now that I’m in London, I miss the most common American ingredients. Like clam juice. Can’t get it anywhere! So I know how frustrating it is. But if you ever do come across cidre buché, you must try it! And if you try the white wine version, let me know how it goes.

      • Meredith says:

        Kerry: Have you checked Selfridges? They have a pretty good American food section (Harrods too, but I’m not as familiar with it b/c it’s so crowded/spendy). Also, if you can get the burbs, a bigger Sainsbury’s has a surprising selection of American foods, I never looked for clam juice but they have Jiff peanut butter and Diet Dr. Pepper (!!). Also, there’s an American grocery in Hampstead called Rosslyn Deli that’s pretty good. There’s another on off King’s Road somewere in Chelsea but I can’t remember the name.

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