Friday, November 13, 2015

Irish Pork Chops

by Sheila Connolly 

Now that the New England Crime Bake is over for another year (sigh), I’ve shifted to planning mode for my imminent trip to Ireland (more research, of course!). So you may be seeing a lot of Irish recipes from me (depending on Internet accessibility), or maybe wannabe Irish recipes. I cannot say often enough how much Irish food has improved since I first visited! (But I’d go over there anyway.)

Thanksgiving is looming, and somehow that holiday always demands a lot of cooking, for a lot of people (did I mention I’m leaving the country rather than face that?). So having a few quick and simple recipes on hand, for before and after, is a good idea. This is one of those.

And I get to put in a plug for my favorite Irish distillery, West Cork Distillers, in Union Hall/Skibbereen (Union Hall is what is says on the label, but I’ve visited where they make it in Skibbereen, a few miles away). It’s one of the newest in the country, with some pretty stiff competition, but they’re making really good stuff—yes, I’ve tested it—and the guys who run the place are even going to be in my next County Cork book (and not for their whiskey!).

For those of you who don’t know it well, Irish whiskey tastes a bit sweeter than Scotch (which is why I like it). But it won’t overpower a savory dish. Think of this as Irish sweet-and-sour pork.

Pork Chops with Lemon-Honey-Irish Whiskey Sauce

This recipe was originally intended to serve six, but I cut it in half. I did give the full measurements for the sauce, in case you want to spoon it over your side dishes.

3 boneless pork cutlets or bone-in pork chops (I like the bone-in ones for flavor, but the boneless ones make this dish quick and easy to prepare).

Salt and pepper
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 Tblsp butter
1 Tblsp minced shallot
1 tsp flour


1-1/2 tsp finely grated lemon rind
1/2 cup Irish whiskey
1 cup chicken broth
1 Tblsp honey
1 Tblsp lemon juice

1 Tblsp butter

Dry the meat with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until it shimmers. Add the pork and cook until they are browned on the bottom (timing will depend on whether you’re using boneless chops, which cook quickly, and how thick they are—they should be slightly springy when you touch them, not stiff). Turn and brown the second side. Transfer to a plate, cover and keep warm.

Swirl the butter in the skillet. Lower the heat to medium-low. Add the shallot and a bit more salt and cook until the shallot softens (about one minute). Add the flour and cook, stirring, for another minute (to cook the flour).

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the whiskey. Return to the heat, raise it to medium and simmer, stirring to incorporate the tasty stuff in the pan. This is where you burn off the alcohol in the whiskey, in case you’re worried. After about a minute, add the chicken broth and whisk. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced to about 1/2 cup (it should thicken slightly). 

Add the honey and lemon juice and heat through over medium-low heat. Add one more tablespoon of butter, then taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper if you think you need it.

When you serve your dish, spoon the sauce of the meat and serve immediately. (Noodles, rice or potatoes would pair nicely.)

A Turn for the Bad, the fourth book in the County Cork Mystery series, will be released in February 2016.

And there's whiskey! I visited the distillery last year and met the owners, and since then I've watched their bottles appearing on store shelves all over my area. Of course I had to put them in this book!

You can pre-order it at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.


  1. Sounds wonderful. And I happen to have some pork in the fridge!

  2. This sounds SO good, Sheila! I think I'm going to have to obtain some pork chops today...

  3. That does sounds tasty. I will have to try it.

    (By the way, I think you meant "shallot" here, rather than "shallow"--"Add the shallot and a bit more salt and cook until the shallow softens (about one minute).

    1. You're right! Wonder where I can find a shallow... I'll see if I can fix it.

  4. Pork chops are a weeknight staple in our house - thanks for the yummy new recipe to try! I've never been to Ireland but hope to someday.... :-)

  5. You're working on book four already? I have some reading to do! Thanks for the recipe.

    1. Hurry up! #4, A Turn for the Bad, will be out in three months, and I'm already working on #5, for 2017. Which is why I need to go back to Ireland and chat with my police source (whose wife's name, by coincidence, is Maura Donovan).