The flavors of this dish result in an amazingly rich pork sauce layered with apple cider, brown sugar and cinnamon which marry well with the pork, figs, dates and apples. Every bite is a unique experience as various elements of the dish come together on the fork. The deep browning of the bones and meat is crucial to achieving the balance in the sauce of the rich pork flavor; otherwise the sauce will be too sweet from the cider. Done right, this sauce is amazing. This could be a one-dish meal very easily and just be served with a salad. Note: if fresh figs aren't available, soak dried figs in water for several hours or even overnight. —TheWimpyVegetarian
thick cut pork loin chops on the bone with some of the tenderloin attached
olive oil, divided
salt and pepper to taste
light brown sugar
yellow onion, peeled and sliced into 4 large crescents
garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
apple, peeled, cored and sliced into 8 crescent sections (I used Granny Smith)
figs, left whole
Medjool dates, left whole
fresh thyme leaves
In This Recipe
Cut the pork off the bone including the tenderloins. Tie the pork loins with string to form oval shapes. Salt lightly on both sides and set aside while you make the reduction sauce. Cut each of the two small tenderloin pieces in half.
In a heavy bottomed skillet or saute pan, pour 2 Tablespoons oil and heat over medium high heat until very hot. Place the bones and small tenderloin pieces in the pan. They should sizzle. Brown them on all sides until they are a deep nut-brown. Be careful not to burn them. This should take about 15-20 minutes, but don't rush this step.
When the bones and tenderloin are are deep brown add 1 cup of chicken broth. Scrape up the bits of pork cooked on the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce by 1/2 and add another 1/2 cup of broth. Bring back to a boil and simmer for 7-10 minutes while the stock reduces by 1/2 again. Add another 1/2 cup of broth, bring to a boil, and cook another 5 minutes. Strain meat, bones and broth into a clean pot, pouring 1/2 cup of water over the bones at the end. Set aside. Your reduction stock for the sauce is now done.
In a large saute pan, heat 2 Tablespoons oil and heat over medium-high heat until very hot. Dry off the pork chops so the meat surfaces are very dry. Lightly salt and pepper the pork on both sides and add to the saute pan. Reduce the heat to medium and deeply brown each side, roughly 5 minutes per side.
Remove the pork and set aside on a plate. Deglaze the pan with apple cider. Scrape up any cooked meat bits on the pan and reduce by 1/2. Add back in the pork stock reduction, the brown sugar and cinnamon and stir. Add the pork chops back into the saute pan.
Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a pot and heat over medium high heat. When very hot, add the onions and saute until lightly browned and very aromatic (about 3-4 minutes). Remove and add to the saute pan with with pork and cider reduction. Saute the garlic cloves for 1 minute in the hot oil until lightly crisped and aromatic. Add to the cider reduction and pork.
Add the apple, figs and dates into the saute pan with the pork. Simmer, occasionally turning the figs and apples in the sauce, for about 20 minutes until the meat reaches 160F for medium. The sauce should be reduced to a slightly syrupy consistency.
Remove the pork, tent with foil, and rest for 10 minutes. Pour any released juices back into the cider reduction sauce and adjust for seasoning if needed. Cut the string around the meat; slice the pork or leave whole, spooning sauce over the meat. Sprinkle pork dish with a little fresh thyme and pomegranate seeds just before serving.