Mustard Pork Chops & Gnocchi in Cider Sauce

One of my all-time favorite, “dinner in a hurry” meals is this recipe for mustard pork chops and gnocchi from my Nigella Express cook book.  It couldn’t be quicker, and it’s a comforting new take on the classic duo of pork and apples.  There are only 5 ingredients (6 if you count the gnocchi) but in less than half an hour you’ll have a bistro-worthy meal on the table.

To start, you’ll need pork chops.  The recipe calls for 2 pork chops totalling 1 pound in weight, but I doubled the recipe because I love leftovers.  Nigella also uses garlic oil in many of her recipes in the Express book, and I keep meaning to buy it but never do.  So I minced up some garlic.

You’ll also need whole grain mustard, heavy cream and hard cider.  Woodchuck is commonly available and it’s fine, but I prefer Strongbow cider.  It was my drink of choice when I was a twenty year old living at the posh but creepy-sounding Manson Place in South Kensington, and a sip of its tart apple depths transports me back to a dimly lit pub and British people who invariably thought my name was Jane.

Whatever cider you use, this recipe is all sweet simplicity.  Bring a salted pot of water to a boil, and cook and drain the gnocchi.  Heat the garlic oil in a pan, and fry your pork chops until done (approximately 5 minutes per side if you pound them thin per Nigella’s instructions.  Mine took a little longer because I didn’t.)  Remove them to a warmed plate.  Next, deglaze the pan of its glorious porcine fond by adding the cider.  Let it bubble away for a minute after you’ve scraped up all of that crispy brown flavor.  Add the heavy cream and whole grain mustard, stirring to combine, and let the sauce cook for a few minutes.  Put the cooked gnocchi in the pan with the sauce and give it a few stirs to coat it thoroughly.  Serve nestled next to a pork chop and ladle a little grainy, apple scented sauce.  Green salad is a nice tip of the hat to health and wouldn’t be amiss.

Mmm.  The sauce, despite its minimal ingredients and quick cooking time, has a sweet depth of flavor that goes oh-so-well with the starchy gnocchi.

As delicious as the pork chops are, it’s the gnocchi saturated in cream and cider with the sweet heat of mustard that I keep compulsively popping into my mouth long after I’m full.  Try this after-work quickie soon.  You won’t be disappointed.

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