Hooray for a cooking post with pictures!

A few years ago, Tim and I went to Chicago with Tim’s brother Tom and Tom’s wife Kelly. While we were there, we ate at Buca di Beppo, which was pretty yummy! Tim had something called Pork Rustica which was a pork dish with a blueberry stopping that I’ve played around with trying to recreate but have never actually done. However, the kiddos aren’t fans of blueberries, so I knew I needed something else too, and I wanted to make something Claire would like, so I decided to make an apple topping too. You certainly don’t have to make both toppings, or you could make both and combine them!

Here are the ingredients:

Pork chops

Blueberry topping

Apple topping











I cored the apples and pitted the dates, then chopped both and set them aside. I used Gala but you could use any fairly sweet apple, or maybe a sweet-spicy such as Fuji. After two apples, I said, I think that’s enough, so there’s only two apples in the recipe even though there’s four in the picture. I still used two dates though.

I started with 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in my 12-inch cast iron skillet. Heat it up and then nestle some pork chops in there. I also put a little bit of granulated garlic and pepper on them. Coconut oil likes to be busy doing something, so I fill up the pan as much as possible:

I turned the heat up fairly high (“7” on my kinda crappy electric stove) and seared the pork chops for 3 minutes on each side before going into a 13 x 9 baking dish.

While the pork chops were cooking, I put the chopped apples and dates in my 8-inch cast iron pan with 2 tablespoons of butter, and sprinkled some ground cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg on top. I turned the heat to medium low (“3” on the stove) and let it cook for a bit, stirring it to make sure the apples were evenly coated with butter and spices:

These apples now look like potatoes, but they are apples, I promise. In the background is the chicken stock that Tim made.After the apples had cooked for a bit, I called Claire in. She took a sniff and said, “It smells like Christmas!”

I cooked a total of 8 pork chops, so it took three batches in the pan. After the second batch it looked like the pan needed some more oil, so I put another teaspoon of coconut oil in there. When they were done, they looked like this:

Pork Chops: We're tired! We need to finish cooking and then rest!

They went into the oven at 325 to finish up cooking while I made the blueberry sauce.

I turned down the heat on the larger pan and used about a third of a cup of red wine to deglaze it, then added 2 cups of blueberries and a tablespoon of lemon juice. I gave the berries a quick stir and then let them sit until they started to swell and split. Then I mashed about half of the berries with a fork to make it a little saucier and mixed it again. I turned down the heat to let the sauce cool and thicken a bit:

Mash half the blueberries (top) and then stir (bottom)

At this point, I had to go to the Cor Jesu fall sports rules meeting, so I turned the camera over to Tim. I had 2 potatoes (for the kids) and a sweet potato (primal approved, for Tim and me) baking in the oven, and Tim steamed some broccoli to go with it:

He also made a greens plate with lettuce, baby spinach, and celery, but I’m not including a picture of that.

A couple of notes: the pork is from Sam’s, nothing fancy. You can use whatever kind of coconut oil you want, but it should be good at medium and high temperatures. The dates are optional, I thought they’d add some moisture, but I couldn’t really tell they were there. The apples were kind of thick, but if you want the apple topping to be more of a sauce, you could mix in a little bit of cream, water, or even chicken stock.

Tim and I both thought it was good, and the kids liked theirs too. Success!

So, how quickly can you put this together? I took my time, and took pictures and such. But I’m thinking you could do it in about 45 minutes, depending on how you cook the potatoes. I like to start mine in the microwave and finish them in the oven. The potatoes are optional as well, you could skip them and do a salad instead.

Tomorrow I’m going to start a recipes page with no pictures, so take a look over there if you want the recipes.
Bon appetit!