Pears and Cumin: an unlikely, delicious pair in this boneless pork chop recipe!
Cumin seeds are heady, robust little things with the capability to drastically change the course of a dish. Take care not to confuse cumin with caraway, as caraway is actually called “cumin” in several European languages. The two spices are a bit similar in appearance, but cumin is spicier and, by and large, more flavorful.
Cumin seeds are featured most notably in Mexican, Middle Eastern, Indian Mediterranean, and particular Chinese cuisines. During the Middle Ages, cumin was a popular – and easily accessible – condiment with the spice-mad Europeans, and legend tells of men going off to war with small loaves of cumin bread in their bags for good luck. Cumin is a Mediterranean spice, extensively used by the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Persians, and nearly everyone in the region. Curries are wonderful and predictable places to integrate cumin obviously, but why not broaden your horizons and explore other culinary options? Cumin functioned as a substitute for costly black pepper for those who couldn’t afford it, so why not follow suit and add it to dishes to which you wouldn’t normally use it? Scrambled eggs and cumin are a delightful combination, as is cumin and sweet potatoes. If you season it with pepper, try it with cumin – just for an interesting change of pace.Not unlike other spices that have been around for centuries, cumin seems to offer numerous health benefits, from an antioxidant to an anti-glycation agent to antioxidant to anti-osteoporotic, and more.
2 firm, almost-ripe Anjou pears, peeled
4 boneless center-cut, pork loin chops
1 TBSP ground cumin
Sea salt and ground black-pepper
2 TBSP olive oil
2 TBSP unsalted butter
3/4 cup apple cider
2 TBSP. cider vinegar
Set peeled pears upright and cut in 1/2-inch slices, lengthwise toward the base. Remove seeds. There should be about 8 slices at ½” thick. Dust the pork chops with cumin. Generously season with salt and pepper.
Using a heavy skillet, heat oil over medium-high flame. When the olive oil is spitting-hot, add the pork chops and sauté for three minutes on each side; moving them only to flip. They should be firm, but slightly springy to the touch. Transfer the pork chops to a plate and cover with aluminum foil. Dispose of the oil. Add butter to the skillet. When it begins to foam, add the pear slices. Sauté the pears for about three minutes, flip them only once, until they are brown on both sides and present a caramelized exterior. Remove the pears and place them on a plate.
Now, pour the cider and cider vinegar into the skillet. Scrape the bottom to remove any browned pieces. Simmer the cider, and vinegar mixture until reduced by about one half. Season with salt and pepper.
Arrange the pear slices on four plates; two on a plate. Place the pork chops atop the pears, and ladle the sauce over. Serve straight away.