Pork Chops, Apples, Wild Mushrooms and Sauerkraut in Pumpkin Beer

Serves 2

It was October and my local supermarket was filled with pumpkin everything, including wheat beer. Pork, wild mushrooms, apples and sauerkraut beckoned, and this complex-tasting, satisfying main course was the result. I served the chops with yams. To drink: beer or a light red wine, if desired.

1/2 ounce dried wild mushrooms
1 teaspoon vegetable or olive oil
2 (1-inch thick) loin pork chops, well trimmed and blotted dry
Kosher or coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tart-sweet apple, peeled and sliced
3/4 cup sauerkraut, rinsed and squeezed dry
3/4 cup pumpkin wheat beer
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried leaves
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried leaves

  1. Cover the mushrooms with warm water and soak until soft, 35 to 45 minutes. Drain and set aside. Strain the soaking liquid through moist a fine strainer lined with a wet paper and reserve. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Season the pork with salt and pepper. In a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Add the chops and sear them without moving until well browned, about 1 1/2 minutes per side, turning once. Remove to a plate and set aside.
  3. Add the butter, onion and apples to the skillet and sauté over medium-high heat until the onions are golden, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic, cook for 30 seconds, then stir in rehydrated mushrooms and sauerkraut and continue cooking for another 3 minutes.
  4. In a bowl, stir the beer, mustard and cream together. Pour over the onion mixture, add the thyme and sage, and bring to a boil. Cook over high heat to reduce by half.
  5. Place the pork chops over the onion mixture, cover and transfer to the oven. Bake until the meat measures 140 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven. Taste to adjust the seasoning. If the sauce is too thin, transfer the chops to a warm platter and tent with foil. Return the sauce to a boil to reduce until the proper consistency.