Life has been busy lately. I made the mistake of painting my entire bathroom myself this past weekend (save for the tippy top corners which I had Jeremy fill in since my 5-foot frame couldn’t reach them even on my step ladder) which left me sore and exhausted going into the work week. Looking back I should have spread it out over a couple weekends, but sometimes my enthusiasm for new projects overwhelms my better judgement and I put myself in less than ideal situations. So as of right now, I am pretty pooped. Too pooped to cook, even! But luckily I’d made this recipe a couple weeks ago and kept it tucked away in my back pocket because I like to hoard recipes from time to time (like ya do) and am pulling it out now for a nice and timely pre-holiday post. I had never had juniper before this recipe and was surprised by it’s ticklishly wintery flavor. It tastes almost pine-like, but slightly sweet. I used a juniper-flavored balsamic in the glaze as well as actual dried juniper berries. The dried juniper berries are like peppercorns, insomuch as you don’t want to actually eat them whole. I left them floating around in the sauce, but it you want to avoid telling your guests not to eat the little black balls you can just wrap them in a piece of cheesecloth, tie it off with kitchen twine, and place that in the pot while its cooking to let the flavor seep into the sauce. Just remember to remove it right before serving so that no one ends up biting down on a mouthful of bag.
I pan-fried the rosemary-marinated pork chops in butter to keep them nice and moist, and when the slightly tart yet sweet cranberry juniper balsamic glaze was drizzled over them something magical happened…Pork goes shockingly well with fruit glazes! I feel like I’ve heard this before, but never had I tried or experienced it firsthand. For shame! So many delicious meals I could have made using this combination…but at least I know now. I’d also recommend using this glaze on turkey, chicken, duck, or venison. It’s just a delight! Also, last week I geld a giveaway for a beautiful ceramic pie pan from BigKitchen.com, and I’m happy to announce that the winner is…
Begin by marinating the pork. Mix together the minced garlic, olive oil, rosemary, salt, and black pepper until well blended. Pour into a large plastic bag. Place the pork chops in the bag and seal it well, pressing out as much of the air as possible. Shake it up so that the pork chops are coated in the marinade, then place it in the refrigerator and allow to marinate for 1 hour.
Now you can make the glaze. Bring 1/4 cup of the brown sugar and 1/2 cup of the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the cranberries and dried juniper (you can wrap the dried juniper in a cheesecloth tied off with kitchen twine if you prefer to keep it separate, just remove it from the sauce right before serving). Bring to a rapid boil and cover. Lower heat to medium, boil for about 10 minutes, stirring every three minutes. Remove lid, lower the heat to medium-low and add remaining water, brown sugar, and nutmeg. Cook about 5-10 minutes more at low heat until the desired thickness of the glaze is reached. Stir in the juniper balsamic until fully incorporated. Remove from heat and set aside. Melt butter in a wide frying pan over medium heat. Add the pork chops and cook for about 8 minutes per side, or until cooked all the way through. Remove from heat and serve with the cranberry glaze.