Pork Chops with Flaming Apricot Bourbon Sauce

March 24, 2011
3 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

I was a little wary of trying my hand at a flambé (for me, kitchen disaster = fire, and for me to intentionally set one seems ripe with disastrous possibility); however, my recent interest in Bourbon – in part thanks to food52 via the Hot Toddy contest - was enough to inspire an attempt. Starting with Maker’s Mark (since that is what I have been drinking), and working backwards, I decided to use pork chops, because I wanted to incorporate apricot preserves to complement the vanilla and caramel in the bourbon. I adapted the technique for pork chops from Cook’s Illustrated New Best Recipe, which has you start the chops in a cold pan to ensure tender, juicy chops. Although my first attempt at flambé was almost comedic (three people and one faulty lighter), my second, solo attempt, went WHOOSH! up in flames (a little startling, and also a little thrilling). The resulting sauce is rich and flavorful with just a hint of sweet apricot and a whisper of bourbon, a lovely complement to the juicy pork chops. Note: As with any recipe that involves intentionally lighting your food on fire, make sure you have your mise en place, because once you start, everything comes together quickly. - gingerroot —gingerroot

Test Kitchen Notes

Gingerroots's pork chop recipe is delicious and simple to throw together. The sauce is sweet from the apricot preserves and boozy and tangy from the bourbon with just a touch of cream. I loved the fennel seeds and brown sugar crust that caramelized nicely on the chops. This would make a great week night dinner that has a little "flaming pizzaz"! - jvcooks —jvcooks

What You'll Need
  • 4 (1-inch thick) bone-in loin pork chops
  • Sea salt for seasoning chops
  • Coarse ground black pepper for seasoning chops
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons scallions, minced (white and tender light green parts only)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 Meyer lemon wedge (if using regular lemon, use 2 wedges)
  • 1 tablespoon
    1 teasoon Apricot preserves, stirred a bit in a small bowl

  • 1/4 cup Maker’s Mark Bourbon, poured into a measuring cup (do this while chops are finishing cooking)
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  1. If using an electric burner, start to heat it up by turning stove to medium. If using a gas burner, you can wait to heat until you are ready to start cooking chops. Keep your sauté pan (not non-stick) cold.
  2. Set chops on a large plate. Blot chops dry with a paper towel. Drizzle olive oil on both sides of each chop, about ½ t per side, just enough to coat (use finger to rub oil in). Season chops on each side with sea salt and pepper.
  3. Crush fennel seeds to a powder using a mortar and pestle. Add brown sugar and mash a few times with pestle to combine with fennel. Sprinkle fennel-brown sugar mixture on one side of each chop, evenly dividing, and pressing down lightly with your finger.
  4. Place the chops fennel-sugar side down, in a large (at least 12”), deep sauté pan, off the heat. If using electric, move pan onto preheated burner. If using gas, turn burner on to medium and move pan onto burner. After two minutes chops should start to sizzle. Cook until sugared side is browned, about 7 minutes total. Flip chops, which may require a little tug with your tongs, cover pan and turn heat down to low. Continue cooking until internal temperature registers 140-145 degrees F., between 4-6 minutes. Transfer chops to a clean plate and tent lightly with foil.
  5. Pour pan juices into a bowl and set aside. Add butter to sauté pan, let it melt, and then add minced scallions and garlic. Cook until fragrant, then squeeze lemon wedge(s) into pan and stir. Add reserved pan juices, apricot preserves and stir again. Add bourbon; let it cook for a few seconds to heat the alcohol (it may not ignite if cold) and then slightly tilting pan away from you, light the bourbon at the edge of the pan with a barbeque lighter or long kitchen match. Once flames have subsided (alcohol has burned off), immediately stir in cream and return chops to pan to coat in sauce. Serve immediately, with additional sauce and enjoy!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • BigDaveSpoon
  • fiveandspice
  • pauljoseph
  • Sagegreen
  • TiggyBee

Recipe by: gingerroot

My most vivid childhood memories have to do with family and food. As a kid, I had the good fortune of having a mom who always encouraged trying new things, and two grandmothers who invited me into their kitchens at a young age. I enjoy cooking for the joy it brings me - sharing food with loved ones - and as a stress release. I turn to it equally during good times and bad. Now that I have two young children, I try to be conscientious about what we cook and eat. Right about the time I joined food52, I planted my first raised bed garden and joined a CSA; between the two I try to cook as sustainably and organically as I can. Although I'm usually cooking alone, my children are my favorite kitchen companions and I love cooking with them. I hope when they are grown they will look back fondly at our time spent in the kitchen, as they teach their loved ones about food-love. Best of all, after years on the mainland for college and graduate school, I get to eat and cook and raise my children in my hometown of Honolulu, HI. When I'm not cooking, I am helping others grow their own organic food or teaching schoolchildren about art.

22 Reviews

Lovisa W. February 28, 2021
OMG! The sauce is amazing! This was my first try making the recipe. I had to substitute the fennel seed with caraway and I used dark sugar over light. I also used 3 cloves of garlic. The flavor was out of this world. This could be a very elegant dinner party meal. The flavor wows and it comes together quickly. This was my first flambe and it was so fun! I will definitely make it again. I served them with sour cream mashed potatoes and asparagus. I think a different veggie like broccolini would have been better, but this is what I had on hand. I will definitely make this dish again. I can't wait to try it with the fennel seeds.
gingerroot September 22, 2021
Thank you Lovisa! Glad you enjoyed this.
Juliebell February 18, 2014
I love your second attempt, a little startling and also a little thrilling. I'm fixing this week and going for thrilling. Thanks for a lovely sounding recipe.
BigDaveSpoon April 16, 2011
Great sauce, absolutely awesome! Instead of starting witha cold pan, have you tried this with a quick sear, and then finishing in the oven?
wander01 April 14, 2011
Great recipe! I served this with sweet mashed potatoes and sauteed spinach with garlic last night - all of the flavors blended together really well. Also, Scotch works as a substitute for bourbon if that's all you have on hand.
gingerroot April 15, 2011
So glad you enjoyed it, wander01! Mmmm...sweet mashed potatoes and sauteed spinach...now I know what I want to eat with these chops the next time I make it. Thanks for letting me know.
fiveandspice April 2, 2011
The fennel in these is a stroke of genius! They were totally delicious. I already can't wait to make them again!
gingerroot April 2, 2011
Aw, thanks, fiveandspice! Fennel seed can be strong, but I thought by using just a bit, crushing, and combining with the brown sugar it would work with the other flavors. I am so thrilled that you enjoyed them.
pauljoseph April 1, 2011
Congrats on the editors pick gingerroot,
gingerroot April 1, 2011
Thank you, pauljoseph!! Congrats to you on your EP! I will definitely try it during mango season.
Sagegreen March 26, 2011
These look so inviting! Thanks for this great recipe.
gingerroot March 26, 2011
You're welcome, Sagegreen! I hope you try these - the apricot and bourbon pair nicely with the chops.
TiggyBee March 24, 2011
Oh, I just love this gingerroot!!
gingerroot March 25, 2011
Thanks so much TiggyBee!
fiveandspice March 24, 2011
Wonderful combination of flavors gingerroot!
gingerroot March 24, 2011
Thank you, fiveandspice! Now that I have done it successfully, I think it could be fun experimenting/pairing different spirits (with all their varied and complex flavors) with other ingredients.
wssmom March 24, 2011
I really LOVE Makers Mark, pork chops, apricot, brown sugar .... yummmmm!!!!!
gingerroot March 24, 2011
Thanks, wssmom! If you try it, I'd love to know your thoughts about it.
hardlikearmour March 24, 2011
This sounds soooo good! Love that you added a little fennel to the chops, and the apricot & bourbon combo sounds delish.
gingerroot March 24, 2011
Thanks, hardlikearmour! The sauce is really tasty and pairs really nicely with the pork. I was happy to have it for dinner two nights in a row! : )
Bevi March 24, 2011
Wow, gingerroot - these chops look amazing! Maker's Mark is always in my booze nook, so these are a go! I love your combination of crushed fennel seed and brown sugar.
gingerroot March 24, 2011
Thanks, Bevi! I do hope you give this a try. I always think of fennel and pork but was not sure how it would work with the other flavors...but since there is just a hint of it, combined with the brown sugar, it becomes a layer of flavor that works, I think.