Welcome to week 35 of Fifty States of New Recipe Tuesday. This week we welcome West Virginia, who joined the union on June 20, 1863. I was really surprised when I found myself back East at week 35. How on earth did California become a state before West Virginia? Well, the story is quite clear when you look at the date, and where WV is located.
Before the Civil War, the state of Virginia covered a larger area, which encompassed the land that is now West Virginia. The state was pretty cleanly divided in both its people and its beliefs. The western region was settled by pioneers and mountaineers, while the eastern region was aristocratic and held slaves. The westerners had tried to secede in 1769, but were unsuccessful. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Virginia seceded from the Union in 1861. The residents of the western counties did not own slaves, so they decided to stay with the Union. As a result, West Virginia, where “Mountaineers Are Always Free” was formed.
I will admit that West Virginia was a huge challenge in the food department. They are sort of known for two things; Pepperoni Rolls, which are basically a stuffed bread dough, and a hot dog sauce which, for those of you that are from my hometown of Rochester, seemed like the stuff they use at Nick Tahoes. I wasn’t having it with either one of them.
What I did discover in my search is that West Virginia is known for its Apple Butter. And although I would like to give that a try sometime, I decided to search out a recipe that used it as an ingredient instead. What I found was Apple Butter Bourbon Pork Chops with Potatoes and Collards. I found this recipe on a chef website called http://www.askchefdennis.com and since I made only minor changes to it, I need to give him the pingback.
The pork chops are cooked very simply; pan fried with just salt and pepper, but it’s the sauce that really makes the dish. The combination of bacon, onion, apple butter, bourbon and even a little tomato paste make for a sweet yet very balanced sauce that goes perfectly with the simple pork. The dish also included the potato with collards, which were also quite simple yet delicious. I have never made collard greens before, and now I know I will make them again. I liked their bitterness against the sweetness of the sauce, and honestly, I might even eliminate the potatoes next time if I wanted to go lower carb.
Overall, I give this recipe a solid A. So glad I found something tasty to make that had a good enough nod to West Virginia, while not requiring me to stuff bread dough with cheese and pepperoni! Good enough for company, easy enough for everyday.
Thanks WV! I learned some US history today and also got a nice dish out of you. See you all next week in Nevada.
Apple Butter Bourbon Pork Chops with Potatoes and Collards (adapted from askchefdennis.com)
For the chops and sauce:
4 center cut pork chops
sea salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 thick sliced bacon, cut into small pieces
1 medium onion, diced
½ cup apple butter
1 ounce bourbon
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup chicken stock
For the potatoes and collards
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups baby potatoes, quartered
1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
4 cups chopped collard greens
1 cup chicken stock
sea salt and black pepper to taste
Liberally season pork chops with sea salt and black pepper.
Heat a sauté pan over medium hot heat, add in olive oil, then add pork chops.
Sauté until well seared on both sides, 2-4 minutes per side, until there is no sign of pink. Remove from pan, set aside and keep warm.
Add bacon into pan and sauté for one minute, then add in onions and brown sugar, continue to sauté for 4- 5 minutes or until bacon is cooked. (see note below about starting potatoes here)
Add in bourbon allowing the alcohol to cook off.
Add in tomato paste and chicken stock, mix well and reduce the heat to a simmer. Continue to allow simmering while collards and potatoes are cooking.
In another pan over medium heat, add in olive oil, then the potatoes and onion. Season well with sea salt and black pepper. Sauté for 2-3 minutes then add in the collard greens.
Stir mixture until greens wilt, turn heat down, cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Add in a little chicken stock as needed.
Re-season if needed with sea salt and black pepper.
I found that starting the potatoes and greens when the bacon was cooking gave the vegetables the right amount of time to cook.