When I heard National Brandied Fruit Day was coming, I was intrigued. I am not sure if I have ever had brandied fruit before and it sounded pretty good: nice delicious fruit sweetened by the syrupy goodness of a quality sipping brandy. I didn’t give it much more thought than that. When it was time to celebrate today, I read through the recipes. Uh oh. Most required that the fruit rest in the brandy for at least two weeks but most required at least ten or twelve months of resting for best flavor. That makes this an incredibly hard recipe to make in one day. Maybe I should have planned better and started my brandying back in December of 2015, but I kinda feel like I was a set up to fail here. So goes the perils of this quest.
I thought of other ways I might possibly celebrate the day. I could stick a banana in a snifter of Hennessy and enjoy it that way (although I imagine I would get some funny looks out at the bar). Lola suggested that she could sing some songs by Brandy whilst eating an apple and that would give me my brandied fruit fix. As tempting as that seemed, I still felt I would not be giving the day the celebration it deserved. I don’t think celebrating brandied fruit was in the cards for me.
My fallback plan in these occasions (according to my quest’s prime directive) is to go with whatever is being recognized as the month’s special observations. Earlier in October I had celebrated both National Pizza Month and National Sausage Month. Thankfully October has no shortage of month celebrations. Did you know that we also celebrate National Pork Month, National Cheese Month and National Pretzel Month all in October? This month seems to have no end to what we will celebrate. I decided to combine all three of those commemorations into one celebratory dinner for tonight.
I had never heard of pork being combined with pretzels but I figured the internet had and sure enough I found a recipe. This recipe was from EatingWell.com which I really have no familiarity with outside of them posting this recipe. I picked up the ingredients I needed (boneless center cut pork chops and a bag of pretzels) and then was ready to start cooking. The first thing you do is grind up the pretzels for a coating the pork. I chopped them to a rough course using our food processor although I probably could have chopped them up a little bit more for a finer crust. I pounded out the chops until they were about 1/2 inch thick, then I dredged them in flour and egg before coating them with the pretzel crumbs. I baked them at a high heat for about 12 minutes. They came out cooked nicely, although the pretzel coating made it a little hard to see if they were done.
The recipe calls for a mustard sauce and because I don’t do mustard (I hate mustard), I decided to make a cheese sauce to serve on top. Although they weren’t really, the pork chops looked kind of dry and needed a little extra something on top. The cheese sauce seemed like a great alternative because cheese goes great with pretzels and it was also National Cheese Month. I simply made a roux, added some milk and chicken broth, then loaded in some cheddar cheese. Once you learn how to make a roux, you can usually figure out how to make sauces like this. It sounds like your quite chefly, but it’s really a pretty simple procedure. The sauce cooked while the chops were in the oven which was the perfect amount of time needed to get the sauce nice and thick. To further my cheese celebration, I made some instant Four Cheese Mashed Potatoes as my side dish (don’t knock instant potatoes – they are really tasty).
This was a terrible picture of our dinner. Sorry, photos aren’t really my forte. All you see here is pretzels and something that looks like gravy. This was a damn good dinner. The pork came out perfect and was not dried out at all. The pretzels still held their crunchy texture, although they were softened by the cooking process. You got the flavor of the salt from the pretzels in every bite. The star however was the cheese sauce which brought it all together. It really needed a sauce to bring more flavor to the party, and as always, the cheese delivered. It wasn’t overly cheesy, but just enough to give you a slight cheese flavor. It was cheese gravy (and it was good). The potatoes capped off the greatness of it all and were the perfect side dish. A bite with the pork, the cheese and the potatoes is everything a good bite should be and was savored with delight.
So in the end, even though I wasn’t able to celebrate Brandied Fruit, I was able to scrape together a celebration today (and a pretty tasty one at that). This quest is going to keep presenting challenges and I am going to have to keep on rolling with them. If I do, I might just end with something memorable. And so it goes.
Next Up: National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day