When I had my first French office job, I had a bit of a reputation for making “weird” salads at lunchtime. For me, there was nothing weird about them: a combination of avocado, lime juice, tahini, red cabbage, carrot, chickpeas, and oranges. But it was this final ingredient that people found strange.
“Why is your salad sweet?” they asked.
Thankfully, I was able to blame it – as I do most my eccentricities – on my being American.
However, I know the truth: not every American eats as much sweet-and-savory as I do. My own father finds it very strange that I put apple in my spinach and goat cheese salads (which, I maintain, is not weird at all). The German side of my family, however, is another story: sweet cucumber salad, sweet-and-sour red cabbage, sweet cornbread with pork roasts… we do it all.
Of course, this isn’t a surprise for people who have tried German cuisine. When I was in Leipzig, I got the chance to taste an authentic sauerbraten (I’d only ever had the dish once before, at Epcot Center – suffice to say, this version was eons better, and it even made its way into the list of the best things I’d eaten in 2015). Sauerbraten is just the right combination of sweet, sour, and savory, and this flavor profile reminds me of a lot of the dishes made by my aunt and godmother (the guardian of our family lebkuchen recipe).
When we were visiting Boston this summer, we stayed with my aunt, and one evening, she cooked up a simple dish of pork chops in a blueberry sauce. My in-laws were skeptical, but once they tried it, they couldn’t get enough. (Though they did suggest, as the French are wont to do, adding a bit of cream.) After this week’s blackberry harvest in Paziols, I knew exactly what recipe to make.
Yes, pork chops with blackberry sauce surprised people here (including our neighbor, who not only brought us to her favorite blackberry patches and spent the afternoon gathering the fruit with us but also made us the jam I used for the recipe). But I stand by its deliciousness – and so does my French husband, who asked if he could lick the pan.
Pork Chops with Blackberry Sauce
1 tablespoon bacon fat
2 pork chops (I used chops from the shoulder, which have more fat, but you can also use loin chops)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup blackberry jam
salt and pepper
Heat the bacon fat over high heat in a heavy pan like cast iron. Season the chops with salt and pepper on both sides and add them to the pan. Cook 3 minutes per side until browned and cooked through. Set aside and keep warm.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the mustard. Stir well with a wooden spoon. Add the jam and stir well to combine. Return to a low heat to warm through. Season the sauce if needed and drizzle over the chops. Garnish with blackberries if desired.