Bischofroda is a small village of less than 700 residents nestled in the Southwestern hills of Thuringia, right in the heart of Germany. While many Americans think of the Rhine River valley as “storybook Germany,” the Thuringia region seems even more special to me. The hills vary from gentle and rolling to steep and spectacular, with a surprise around every turn in the road. In high places, visitors can simply stand along the roadside and gaze down at village after red-roofed village adorning countless acres of farmland and forests.
Bischofroda is the sort of place that encourages its occasional visitors to slow down and relax. We enjoyed meandering through the village, exploring the grounds of the local church, and stepping aside on narrow cobbled roads every now and then to allow locals on horseback and tractors to pass. Returning to our guest house to enjoy a slow and simple dinner with a cold German bier was a great way to end the day.
German bier is so widely available, so inexpensive, and so varied, we may as well cook with it, too! What follows is an easy peasy recipe for fork-tender pork chops, braised in German bier, of course.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
8 thin-cut boneless pork chops
2 carrots, sliced into coins
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup ketchup*
1 pint of your choice of German bier
*Yes, we’re using plain old ketchup. There’s no need to be precious about it – ketchup’s acidity helps to tenderize the pork, and the flavor blends well with bier. If you prefer to be all fancy pants, here’s what you do instead… first you’ll need to peel, seed, and finely chop two ripe, fleshy tomatoes. Cook them down over low heat for approximately 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Add one teaspoon of brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Voila, ketchup.
Step 1) Sear pork chops in frying pan over medium-high heat, approximately 30 seconds on each side. Sprinkle with coarse ground black pepper if desired.
Step 2) Push pork chops aside and place onions and carrots evenly around bottom of the frying pan. Place seared pork chops on top of onions and carrots. Drizzle ketchup over pork chops, and pour bier over everything.
Step 3) Place lid on frying pan and simmer on low for 30 minutes or until pork chops are fork tender. Enjoy!