Saturday, September 29, 2012

cider brined pork chops with apples.

I spent most of this past week talking about pork chops and apples (I am pretty sure after day 2 everyone stopped listening to me).  I don’t know what’s happening to me but I feel as if I am begging for full blown fall to arrive.  I have been craving oversized cashmere sweaters and afternoons spent reading under blankets with mugs of hot tea and warm cookies beside me.  But what I am craving most are the foods that remind me of fall – pumpkin and apples and slow roasted meats and soup.  I have a laundry list of dishes I want to make but the one that tops the list was the aforementioned pork chops and apples.  I love the combination of salty tender meat with soft and sweet apples – it’s rustic and warm and just delicious.  To get the most apple flavor possible into my dish I decided to brine my pork chops the night before.  Brineing if you are unfamiliar with it is a way to keep meat super moist and it involves very little effort. I love to brine with making fried chicken or cooking pork chops!  The apple sauce that is poured over the chops is a lovely combination of sweet with just a little bit of tang from the mustard and vinegar.  I recommend serving these chops with roasted carrots and some gnoochi for that warm and comforting food everyone craves in the fall. 

Cider Brined Pork Chops with Apples
Serves 2

Apple Cider Brine
Recipe from NPR

I prepare the brine the night before and then I add the meat to the brine (refrigerate the brine) before I leave for work so when I come home all I need to do is cook the meat!  I divided the original recipe since I was only serving 2 of us but this can be doubled.

1 cup cold water, divided
¼ cup kosher salt
¼ cup light brown sugar
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
¼ teaspoon whole cloves or ground cloves
1 cup apple cider
2 bone in pork chops

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, bring ½ cup water water, salt, sugar, thyme, peppercorns and cloves to a boil.  Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the sugar and salt dissolve.  Remove from the heat, add the apple cider and other ½ cup cold water, and stir well. 

Put the meat in a non reactive pan or a large resealable bag and cove with the cooled brine.  Cover or tightly close the bag and refrigerate for 6 – 12 hours.  If you are using a resalable bag, rotate the pork a few times to make sure all the meat gets brined.  Before cooking, remove the pork and pat dry with paper towels. 

Pork Chops with Apples

2 bone in pork chops, brined
3 apples, peeled and sliced into ¼ inch slices
½ cup apple cider
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
2 generous teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat.  While the skillet is heating up, liberally salt and pepper both sides of the pork chops.  When the skillet is hot and smoking, add the pork chops to the pan and cook about 3 minutes.  Flip the chops and cook on the other side for 3 minutes as well.  Remove the pork chops from the pan, and put them on a baking sheet and cook until the interior temperature reads 150 degrees about 20 – 25 minutes. 

Pour the apple cider into the cast iron skillet, it will begin to bubble and boil.  Add the sliced apples to the cider as well as the apple cider vinegar, and lower the heat to medium, stirring occasionally.  The apple slices should begin to soften and break down, about 5-7 minutes depending on the type of apples you use.  Add the Dijon mustard and stir to evenly distribute.  Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.  Add the heavy cream and stir to combine.  When the pork chops are done pour the apple sauce over the chops.  Garnish with chives if desired.  

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