Is there a better way to honor the mothers in your life than with a home-cooked meal, paired with wine? For Mother's Day, on May 12, try this easy, tasty recipe for peach-glazed pork chops, accompanied by savoy cabbage sautéed with garlic. Be sure to brine the chops the night before you plan to cook them. It requires a little extra planning, but the flavor and juiciness you'll gain are definitely worth it.
As for wine, whether your mom likes white or red, we've got you covered: first with a list of recently rated bright, acidic whites to cut the sweetness of the onions and peaches in the pork glaze; and then with and a list of recently rated earthy reds, also meant to set up a contrast with the glaze, while echoing cabbage's earthy nature.
Peach-Glazed Pork Chops with Savoy Cabbage
For the pork:
• 4 cups water
• 1/2 cup salt, plus more to taste
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 2 tablespoons cracked pepper, plus freshly ground pepper to taste
• 1 onion, coarsely chopped, plus 1 onion, finely sliced
• 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
• 1 celery rib, chopped
• 4 boneless pork loin chops, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches thick
• 1 tablespoon olive or grape seed oil
• 1 cup peach preserves
• 2 tablespoons Champagne or rice wine vinegar
1. To make the brine, combine the water, 1/2 cup salt, sugar, cracked pepper, chopped onion, carrot and celery in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then remove from heat and let cool. When cool, refrigerate until cold.
2. Transfer the brine to a heavy-duty plastic tub, earthenware crock, stainless steel bowl or resealable plastic bag. Add the pork chops to the cold brine. Cover with plastic wrap and weigh the chops down with a plate, if necessary, to keep them completely covered. Refrigerate for 6 to 12 hours. (The longer the chops stay in the brine, the deeper the flavor will be.)
3. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Remove the chops from the brine, pat them dry and season them lightly with salt and pepper. Use an oven-proof skillet that’s large enough to hold all four chops. Add the oil and heat the skillet over moderately high heat. When the skillet is hot, add the chops and brown them on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the pan to the oven and cook the chops for another 5 minutes.
4. Remove the chops from the pan and keep them warm. Return the pan to the stovetop over medium-low heat and add the sliced onion. Sprinkle the onions with a pinch of salt to help them release their juices faster, and stir and scrape the pan with a wooden spoon to dislodge any browned bits in the pan. Once the onions are soft, browned and fragrant, increase the heat to medium-high and add the vinegar, continuing to stir and scrape in order to incorporate the browned bits into the sauce and keep them from burning in the pan. Cook about 3 to 5 minutes, until the vinegar has almost completely evaporated and you no longer notice its sharp smell. Stir in the peach preserves, adding a splash or more of water if necessary to thin the sauce to a spreadable consistency. Briefly return the chops to the pan, quickly turning to coat with the glaze. Serve immediately with the sautéed cabbage (recipe below). Serves 4.
For the cabbage:
• 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
• 1 small head savoy cabbage, cored and coarsely chopped
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-low heat and add the garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is fragrant and just golden, about 2 to 4 minutes, taking care not to let it brown. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the cabbage to the pan in two batches, letting the first wilt slightly before adding the second. Season with salt and pepper and stir well to coat with oil and make sure cabbage is evenly distributed in pan. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until cabbage is tender but still retains its structure. Adjust seasoning if necessary and serve immediately.
RECOMMENDED WHITE WINES
LAWSON'S DRY HILLS Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2009 Score: 91 | $18
Light in style, but generous in flavor, offering fresh, coconut-scented pineapple and lime flavors. Finishes with a creamy texture against zippy acidity. Drink now. 10,000 cases made. —H.S.
CONCHA Y TORO Chardonnay Limarí Valley Marqués de Casa Concha 2008 Score: 90 | $18
This racy white delivers a solid core of Jonagold apple, melon and lemon verbena notes that ripple through the fresh, invigorating finish. Drink now through 2011. 21,000 cases made. —J.M.
LOOSEN BROS. Riesling QbA Mosel-Saar-Ruwer Dr. L 2008 Score: 90 | $12
Sleek and tangy, showing apricot, lime and mango flavors matched to a lively structure. There's good harmony and persistence through the finish. Drink now through 2018. 75,000 cases made. —B.S.
SAINT CLAIR Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough Vicar's Choice 2009 Score: 90 | $17
This refreshing white is generous with its melon, apricot and mineral aromas and flavors, finishing with lime and herb notes that don't quit. Drink now. 30,000 cases made. —H.S.
SILENI Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough Cellar Selection 2009 Score: 90 | $13
Light and tangy, on the tart side, but polished and refined, offering Asian pear, grapefruit and lime peel flavors that don't quit on the finish. Drink now. 50,000 cases made. —H.S.
BOGLE Sauvignon Blanc California 2008 Score: 88 | $10
Mouthwatering and intense, with grass, lemon-lime and green papaya flavors that are highlighted by a zingy acidity. This has great intensity, with a silky finish. Drink now. 40,000 cases made. —M.W.
VIÑEDOS Y BODEGAS CÓRPORA Chardonnay Bío Bío Porta Wild Yeast 2008 Score: 88 | $12
Fresh and pure, with nice cut to the lime, lemon verbena, green and yellow apple fruit flavors that drive nicely through the pure, stone-tinged finish. Very solid. Drink now. 22,844 cases made. —J.M.
BODEGAS MARTÍN CÓDAX Alabariño Rias Baixas 2008 Score: 87 | $15
This lively white offers ripe pineapple and candied orange flavors, yet a firm backbone of acidity keeps it refreshing. Light-bodied yet full-flavored. Drink now. 55,000 cases made. —T.M.
FOUR VINES Chardonnay Santa Barbara County Naked 2008 Score: 87 | $14
Fresh and vibrant, with full-bodied, snappy citrus, grapefruit and pippin apple flavors that are clean and refreshing. Drink now through 2012. 46,220 cases made. —J.L.
TRIVENTO TORRONTÉS Mendoza Reserve 2009 Score: 87 | $11
Ripe and juicy, with nice weight to the tangerine, clementine, chamomile and lemon verbena notes, which stay bouncy and fresh through the finish. Really solid. Drink now. 17,000 cases made. —J.M.
RECOMMENDED RED WINES
BODEGAS PEÑALBA LÓPEZ Ribera del Duero Torremilanos Crianza 2005 Score: 91 | $30
This trim, muscular red neatly balances plum and blackberry fruit with smoky, earthy and gamy notes. Shows concentration and character, though it's a bit austere now. Drink now through 2016. 16,500 cases made. —T.M.
PEACHY CANYON Zinfandel Paso Robles Westside 2007 Score: 88 | $19
This lush red is full of fresh plum and pepper aromas, with supple raspberry, earthy sage and licorice notes. Drink now through 2014. 9,200 cases made. —T.F.
ROSENBLUM Syrah California Vintner's Cuvée 2007 Score: 88 | $13
Offers an elegant mix of ripe, juicy, grapey wild berry, spice, mineral, loamy earth and sage notes that are complex, focused, balanced and complete. Drink now through 2015. 12,500 cases made. —J.L.
NUGAN ESTATE Cabernet Sauvignon Riverina Vision 2008 Score: 87 | $12
Soft and ripe, with mineral and wet earth notes to add interest to the pretty currant and plum flavors, lingering easily. Drink now. 10,000 cases made. —H.S.
THE CRUSHER Pinot Noir Clarksburg Wilson Vineyard 2008 Score: 86 | $13
Elegant and spicy, with pleasant earthy berry, plum and blueberry notes that are clean, full-bodied and balanced. Drink now through 2013. 13,400 cases made. —J.L.
GÉRARD BERTRAND Pinot Noir Vin de Pays d'Oc Réserve Spéciale 2007 Score: 85 | $14
A juniper aroma leads to flavors of red cherry and plum, followed by notes of earth and tar on the firm finish. Drink now. 30,000 cases made. —K.M.
THE CRUSHER Cabernet Sauvignon Clarksburg Wilson Vineyard 2007 Score: 85 | $13
A bit muddled in its delivery of flavor, with earth, herb, mineral and dried berry. On the plus side, this is concentrated, deep and persistent. Drink now through 2012. 8,500 cases made. —J.L.
RAZOR'S EDGE Shiraz McLaren Vale 2008 Score: 85 | $12
Smooth and spicy, with tobacco and toast notes adding interest to the dark berry flavors, which linger on the earthy finish. Drink now through 2012. 25,000 cases made. —H.S.