Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Pork chops with pineapple chutney

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 Pork chops with pineapple chutney
A savory mix of fruit, onions and curry-style spices makes a great accompaniment to smoked pork or ham.
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Pork chops with pineapple chutney

I've always been a little wary about dishes that combine fruit with meat. I like my main course to be savory, my dessert sweet, and no need to mix them up.

Still, millions of happy diners can't all be wrong, and the use of fruit as a flavor accent and contrast with meat, poultry or fish is a custom enshrined in culinary tradition, from sole Veronique (with grapes) to Moroccan beef and prune tagine.

The key, as it is with so many things, is balance. If the flavors of fruit drown out the meat, or if cloying sweetness dominates the dish, then I'll pass, thank you. But keep the flavors in perspective and stay on the savory side, perhaps adding a tart acidic flavor element to balance the sweetness, and the formula works.

Faced with a brace of smoked pork chops and a fresh pineapple the other day, I came up with the idea of using pineapple in a simple, savory, chutney-style sauce with no additional sweetening. Smoked pork has a ham-like flavor, and ham and pineapple are natural companions. Add a squirt of lemon juice to further control any sweetness, and you've got a nicely balanced dish in which the fruit doesn't fight the meat. It would work well, too, with a slice of ham; you could substitute an unsmoked pork chop or even a veal chop, although I think I might tweak some of the spices and other flavors if I went that route.

Here's the recipe. It's quick and simple. If you try it, or come up with a variation, I hope you'll let me know how it goes.


(Serves two)

1/2 of a medium sweet onion, enough to make 1/2 cup (120g) chopped
2 garlic cloves
1 slice pineapple (preferably fresh)
Juice of one Meyer lemon, about 1/4 cup
2 tablespoons (30ml) olive oil
2 thick or 4 thin smoked pork chops
Dried red-pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon (3g) Madras curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin


1. Peel and chop the onion; peel the garlic and mince it fine. Cut the pineapple in small dice. Squeeze the lemon. (If you can't find Meyer lemons, try a blend of 3 parts lemon juice and 1 part orange juice.)

2. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet over high heat. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper and cook them quickly; it shouldn't take more than 5 minutes to cook a thin chop, a little longer for a thin one. Remove them from the skillet and keep them warm.

3. In the same skillet, saute the onions and garlic, adding a little more olive oil (or even just a splash of water) if needed. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a small shake of dried red-pepper flakes.

4. When the onions and garlic are well browned, stir in the diced pineapple, lemon juice, curry powder and cumin. Cook just to warm through, then put the pork chops back in the skillet. Turn them once or twice, and serve.

WINE MATCH: A rich, perhaps off-dry white would be perfect: Think Riesling or Chenin Blanc, or maybe a Chardonnay with a "tropical fruit" flavor profile.

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