Shrub Syrups and fruit vinegars are wonderful additions to waters and to craft cocktails, but are often overlooked as a way to enhance proteins and vegetables. This smoked tomato vinegar was absolutely wonderful as a reduced sauce over pork chops and as a dressing to uplift the flavor of cooked spinach.
Why Use Vinegar in Cooking?
Much like salt and citrus, a dash (or four) of vinegar will perk up your taste buds and bring brightness to the other ingredients in a dish. It’s a sure-fire way to fix dishes that just taste too bland, but you don’t know what is missing.
Our taste buds are happiest when the fats, salts, sweetness and acidity levels work together. Vinegars (or lemon juice) can be the secret ingredient that takes the dish from meh to awesome.
Ideas for Using Fruit Vinegars or Shrub Syrups
The fruit vinegars we make at HeathGlen were developed with Italian Sodas and craft cocktails in mind, and that is still a classic way to use shrub syrups or fruit vinegars.
The difference between a shrub syrup and a fruit vinegar is the amount of sugar. Typically a shrub syrup will have more sugar than a fruit vinegar, but there is a lot of variation. The mainstay of both is the fruit/herb/spice background and the vinegar. The amount of sugar often varies depending on which fruit you use.
I have used Rhubarb Fennel shrub syrup on sheet pan dinners with great success. Just drizzle some oil and some shrub syrup over your proteins and veggies before cooking.
I have used Smoked Cherry shrub syrup as an incredible salad dressing by adding a bit of olive oil to it to emulsify.
Orange Chipotle shrub syrup and Ginger Lime syrup have enhanced fresh sliced strawberries into a dessert of beauty and awesome. I plan to try out Blackberry Mint shrub syrup on seasonal berries as they arrive.
For an indepth-guide from Serious Eats on using different vinegars in cooking, click on this link.
Pork Chops with Tomato Vinegar Sauce
- 2 Tbsp olive oil refined or light
- 1 large onion chopped
- 2 10-oz thick cut pork chops
- 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
- 2 Tbsp butter unsalted
- 1/2 cup smoked tomato vinegar
In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil over med. to med-high heat. Add chopped onion and saute until translucent and caramelized (about 5 minutes)
Remove onion from skillet or push to the side. Turn the burner up to medium-high for a sear. Sprinkle salt over both sides of the pork chops (add any additional spice or rub you like at this time).
Sear chops until well browned on one side and then turn to sear other side. Turn down the heat to med-low, cover the skillet and cook the chops for about 5-10 minutes or until no longer pink when you cut into it.
Remove pork chops from skillet and add tomato vinegar. It should sizzle when you add it, as you are deglazing the pan to get all the pork bits into the sauce. Cook down (reduce) over low heat until the tomato vinegar begins to get a little syrupy.
When the tomato-onion mixture is reduced, add 2 Tbsp butter and stir in until melted.
To serve. Spoon a little tomato-onion sauce on bottom of each plate, place the pork chop on top of the sauce and then drizzle more sauce over the top. Serve with sauteed spinach and a glass of dry red wine!