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
(1-inch thick) bone-in loin pork chops
Sea salt for seasoning chops
Coarse ground black pepper for seasoning chops
light brown sugar
scallions, minced (white and tender light green parts only)
Meyer lemon wedge (if using regular lemon, use 2 wedges)
1 teasoon Apricot preserves, stirred a bit in a small bowl
Maker’s Mark Bourbon, poured into a measuring cup (do this while chops are finishing cooking)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.