Monday, October 26, 2009

My Pan-Roasted Pork Chops and Apples

One of the greatest surprises in learning about myself was the discovery that I love cooking. I'd cooked a little bit out of necessity before but found a serious passion for it a little over five years ago. I've always been a foodie (well before I'd ever heard that term) but used to be very proud of avoiding all domestic arts. Then I grew up and faced reality.

When I moved to my current apartment that has an actual kitchen (if only there was counter space... sigh) I came up with this recipe and it's been a consistent favorite even among the picky eaters I know. It's evolved a bit each time I've made it since this is the first time I've ever attempted to write it down. While apples and pork are a traditional pairing, as far as I know this way of making them is completely original, I never consulted a recipe for inspiration or anything.

Ingredients (scaled to serve 2):
  • 2 thick center-cut pork chops (usually boneless but I've used bone-in)
  • 2 apples, peeled, quartered, and sliced (preferably 2 different sweet varieties)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced roughly
  • olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary (crushed is better but the regular kind is okay)
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried rubbed sage
  • salt (to taste)
  • pepper (I use about 3 grindings' worth)
  1. Pour just enough olive oil into a pan (preferably one that is not non-stick) to coat the bottom, set over low-medium heat Meanwhile, take out the pork to rise to room temperature
  2. Add onion and turn the heat to medium. When it starts sizzling sautee until onions are just starting to get translucent.
  3. Add apple slices and sautee until just barely turning golden. Cover and reduce heat to low-medium, let cook for 5-10 minutes until apples are soft.
  4. As soon as you cover the pan (or earlier), mix the herbs, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the mixture all over the pork chops and let sit.
  5. Give the apple/onion mixture a good stir and push to the outside of the pan. Place pork chops in the empty space created and let brown for 10 minutes (or until browned to your taste).
  6. Flip the chops and pile the apples and onions on top of the chops. Let brown for about 10 minutes again.
  7. Cover pan and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 20 minutes without disturbing. If you hear a lot of sizzling just reduce heat a little more.
  8. Turn heat off and leave the pan covered for 5 minutes.
  9. Knock the apples and onions back into the pan, remove chops to rest on a plate/platter, and turn heat back to medium. Stir the apples and onions (scraping up any fond that may be stuck to the pan) until the juice from them has thickened into a nice sauce.
  10. Plate the pork chops and top with lots of apple/onion sauce.
Many side dishes work with this recipe, tonight we had peas and brown rice with garlic pepper and it was a delicious combination. Other big hits included roasted butternut squash, roasted sugar pumpkin, and my favorite, a blend of red and sweet potatoes roasted with baby carrots (I promise I'll post that recipe soon as well).

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