The Literate Chef

Posts Tagged ‘Calvados’

Pork & Prunes – Yum or Yuck?

In General Articles on May 5, 2012 at 6:51 PM

I don’t know about you, but prunes make me smile. As a child I hated them, particularly as prune juice, which my mother felt was a sure-fire remedy for whatever ailed me. While I still have no love for prunes in their juice form, I have come to appreciate their fruity, dark sweetness, either the dry, finger-sticky kind, or the plump, juicy kind. It is the latter kind that I decided to recently experiment with. But either type will work. If using the dried type, be sure to soak them in boiled water first and then drain them, reserving a bit of liquid for the sauce.

I came across Pork Tenderloin in the local supermarket, and unlike most that you find, this one was not marinated. Pork tenderloin is usually sold vacuum packed with 2 one-pound tenderloins in the package. They are low in fat, about 10 inches long and narrow, maybe two inches wide. Because of their narrowness, they cook through in 10 to 15 minutes. The marinated type, which come in a myriad of flavors, are a great boon to mankind; merely rip open the package, throw them on the grill and 15 minutes later slice them up and dinner is ready. The un-marinated kind are a great boon as well.

As I was moving through the supermarket aisle thinking of how I was going to prepare the tenderloins, I recalled how last year I experimented with Pork Chops with Apples, Raisins and Calvados and also Pork Chops with an Apricot Mango-Chutney and Cognac. Some sort of fruit seemed like a good idea, and, I still had a bottle of Calvados at home.

When I saw a jar of prunes in liquid on the shelf, bingo, I had it! Slice the tenderloins, brown them in a fat, add the prunes and flame-off with the Calvados – Pork Medallions with Prunes and Calvados. The only hard work here, if you want to call it that, is pitting the prunes.

Hint: If using the wet prunes pit them while the medallions are browning and with a small salad as a side, dinner is truly ready in 15 minutes! If using the dried ones, soak them in advance.

Pork Medallions with Prunes and Calvados

In For Moms on the Go, Meat, Pork, Recipes on April 30, 2012 at 11:04 AM

(Preparation time 15 minutes; serves 4.)


2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Pork Tenderloin, (plain, i.e. unseasoned) about 2 lbs., sliced into 1 inch medallions – You should have about 16-18 pieces
24-30 Ready-to-Serve Prunes, drained and pitted (between 1 and 2 for each medallion). As an alternative, soak dried, pitted prunes in 1 quart of boiled water. In either case reserve about 1/4 cup of liquid to enhance the sauce. Or an even better suggestion soak them in Calvados as suggested by Jeannie.
1/2 cup Calvados
Salt and Freshly Ground pepper to taste


1.    In a 12 inch non-stick skillet, on high heat, melt the butter.
2.    Add the Pork Medallions, sprinkle with salt & pepper to taste and sauté for 10 minutes, turning several times to brown evenly.
3.    When browned, add the prunes and then the Calvados. Shut the heat and ignite the Calvados.

CAUTION: When igniting, stand back from the stove, and if you have a vent fan directly over the stove be sure to shut it before igniting the Calvados.

4.    Once ignited return heat to low, and with long tongs, carefully turn the medallions several times times to coat them well with the sauce, continuing cooking 2 to 3 minutes longer.
5.    Place 4 to 5 medallions on each plate, cover with an equivalent number of prunes and 2 or 3 extra, and pour the sauce over all. Serve immediately with vegetable of choice, or a small salad.

Please refer to Pork & Prunes – Yum or Yuck?

Pork Chops Braised in Calvados, Caramelized Apples and Raisins

In Meat, Pork, Recipes on July 6, 2011 at 3:27 PM

                                           Preparation and Cooking Time – 1 hour

•    6 boneless, center cut pork chops, about 3 lbs., patted dry
•    5 Tbsps. of unsalted butter
•    ¼ cup of flour
•    Freshly ground black pepper
•    Kosher salt
•    1 cup raisins
•    3 Granny Smith apples, cored, skins left on, cut in half vertically, each half sliced in the opposite direction, into ¼ inch slices
•    2 Tbsps. sugar
•    1 large shallot, chopped fine, about 6 Tbsps.
•    1 cup Calvados
•    1 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage, about 12 leaves
•    1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary, about 1 stem

1.    Add the raisins to two cups of boiled water and let soak for 30 minutes while performing the other steps. After 30 minutes, strain the raisins and set aside.
2.    Heat 2 Tbsps. of butter on medium heat in a large (14 inch) non-stick pan. When the butter begins to bubble, add the apples cooking and turning them periodically for 6-8 minutes until they begin to release their liquid. Add the sugar and stir, continue cooking and turning frequently for an additional 20 minutes, until well caramelized.
3.    While the apples are cooking and the raisins are soaking, add the flour, salt and pepper to a one gallon-sized Ziploc bag. Then add the pork chops two at a time and shake well to coat the chops.
4.    Add the remaining 3 Tbsps. of butter to a stainless braising pan or covered skillet and heat on high.
5.    When the butter begins to bubble, add the seasoned pork chops in one layer and brown on high heat for 3 minutes, turn and brown the other side for 3 minutes more.
6.    Reduce heat to medium-high. Add the chopped shallots and continue browning the chops for 6 additional minutes, turning after 3 minutes.
7.    Shut the heat and add the Calvados, turn the heat to high to boil off the alcohol, add the caramelized apples and strained raisins, cover and let braise for 8 minutes, turning the chops after 5 minutes.
8.    Remove the cover, add the chopped herbs and cook for 2 minutes more.

Serve with new potatoes roasted with olive oil, rosemary and kosher salt, and a green vegetable such as buttered peas and shallots or Brussel Sprouts Roasted with Hazel Nuts.

Please see Midnight (and Calvados) in Paris.

Braised Pork Chops with Calvados, Apples and Raisins

Midnight (and Calvados) in Paris

In General Articles on July 6, 2011 at 3:07 PM

It wasn’t until 1991, on my first visit to Paris, that I tasted Calvados. I had read about the famous apple brandy from Normandy in Hemingway’s books and had seen it being drunk by characters in the French films to which I was addicted in the 1950s and 60s. But I never had the occasion to order it, until actually sitting in a Parisian café in Montmartre, where it was the natural thing to do.

Montmartre, December 2, 2005

I had it again on subsequent visits to France, in 1992 when we visited our older daughter who was doing a semester abroad in Aix en Provence, where I sipped it watching the pedestrian parade along the Cours Mirabeau and again in 1999, on a trip to the Languedoc-Roussillon region and the Canal du Midi. The most recent occasion had been in 2005 in Paris where we celebrated our wedding anniversary. That time I brought a bottle of it back home with me. That bottle had been sitting unopened on my liquor shelf ever since, that is until last week.

Recently my wife and I saw the latest Woody Allen film, Midnight in Paris and, as was the case with the French films of the 50s and 60s, the characters were drinking Calvados. That’s when it hit me that I still had that imported bottle of Calvados, and it might be interesting to use it for cooking. So I began thinking…what goes well with apples, the essence of Calvados? Pork immediately came to mind, pork chops or roast pork is usually accompanied by applesauce, so voilà, pork chops and Calvados!

Okay, well then maybe I should also add apples to give the dish some substance, that way I can skip the side dish of applesauce. Next, I thought, caramelized apples would make it even sweeter. My wife joined the production by suggesting that I add raisins as well, since they frequently appear as a sweetener in gravy for baked ham.

This was beginning to come together; all it needed now was some herbs to further enhance the dish.  That part was easy, sage and rosemary each have a natural affinity to pork, thus, emerged my plan. Now it was just a matter of executing that plan and putting it all together.

I hope that you enjoy the result, Pork Chops Braised in Calvados, Caramelized Apples and Raisins, we certainly did! One of our readers recently asked for some fish recipes. Lest I be accused of having ichthyophobia please continue reading at: Fish is not Just for Fridays, Anymore.

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