Pork chops with apple is a fall classic that shouldn’t be tweaked with too much. It’s a culinary combo that’s hard to improve. But maybe a little bit? Not to make it complicated, but to actually make it tastier and simpler. And yes, it’s a one-pot dish, ready in 30 minutes.
When I tinker with cooking, my two main concerns are flavor profile and consistency in result. Of course, flavor starts with buying a good product, but even when we can’t shell out the big bucks for top-quality meats, there’s still a lot that can be done in the kitchen with the right ingredients.
How to select and prepare pork chops?
Make friends with your butcher and she’ll cut you the chops the way you want. Otherwise, you’re limited to what’s available on the shelf, which is fine too (most of the time).
Once you’ve picked your chops, think about the meat you just bought. Pork chops are pretty lean and have to be cooked medium. And you don’t want them dry. Kind of a contradiction. No worries, there’s a way to negotiate that.
So you’ve got the pork chops in the fridge and are about to start cooking. Which means heating up a pan, seasoning the chops, and hoping for the best.
Or taking a little more scientific approach to add more control and depend less on hope:
Take your chops out of the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking. This gives the meat a chance to warm up toward room temperature. Think about it: if you put a piece of meat directly from the fridge into the hot pan, the outside will sizzle while the interior still has to warm up before it starts cooking. Result: the outside is done way before the interior reaches the desired 145°F (or medium). By the time you get to 145°F, well, the outside will be, well…
Next, before seasoning, make sure to pat the meat really dry. This will ensure the browning that makes the finished meat so attractive visually and, thanks to the Maillard reaction, so tasty.
Last but not least, if you’re not marinating the meat for an hour or more, season right before putting it in the hot pan. There’s a scientific reason for this and J. Kenji Lopez-Alt explains this beautifully in his excellent book “The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science.”
Start with salting the chops. I like to use a kosher salt like Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt. Next, add a couple cranks of tellicherry peppercorns. If you’d like to make it taste a little spicy-warm – it is a fall recipe after all – add a little ground cinnamon or allspice or whatever you prefer. My sister gave me an incredible spice mixture called Ras el hanout from Morocco. That was my choice on this day.
For a fat, I used a neutral canola oil instead of my go-to olive oil. The reasoning behind this was to get a higher smoke point and a neutral oil flavor.
How to cook pork chops (without drying them out)
My pork chops were partial bone-in and 1-1/2” thick (that’s the beauty of being friends with your butcher 😀).
In a large frying pan, wait for the oil to get really hot. Add pork chops and cook for about 3 minutes per side. They should develop a nice brown crust. Remove from the pan and loosely cover with foil. Do a quick temperature check or cut into one of the chops. The temperature should be less than 145°F and/or the inside of the chop should still be a little pink. Perfect!
How to select and cook the apples
Any firm, crisp apple will do. I used Fuji apples. You want to keep the apples “al dente” when they’re cooked.
In the same pan, heat the butter until bubbly, then add apples, onions, garlic, sage, and rosemary and cook for about 4 minutes, while stirring and occasionally turning the apple pieces.
Next, add chicken stock, heavy cream, and Dijon mustard. Reduce heat and let simmer until the sauce starts to thicken, about 10 minutes. If the sauce reduces too quickly, add some more chicken stock or water; if it won’t thicken, add some apple sauce. Taste and add more salt and/or pepper as needed.
How to bring it all together
At this point, the pork chops have been resting for about 15 minutes. Add them back into the pan and baste with the sauce for about 5 minutes or until the internal temperature reads 145°F.
Serve with a French baguette (you’ll want soak up the incredibly tasty sauce to the last drop) and a bottle of Côtes du Rhône 😋
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Pork Chops with Apple - a taste of fall in 30 minutes
For the chops
- 2 thick (bone-in) pork chops
- 2 Tbsp neutral oil (like canola)
- 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp “warm” spice, such as cinnamon, allspice, etc (optional)
For the sauce
- 2 crisp apples (like Fuji), cored and cut into 12 wedges each
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tsp rosemary, chopped
- 1 tsp sage, chopped
- 1/2 c red onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled, crushed
- 1/2 c chicken stock
- 2 Tbsp heavy cream
- 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Pat pork chop dry, season with salt, pepper, and your favorite spice
- In a large frying pan, wait for the oil to get really hot
- Add pork chops and cook for about 3 minutes per side
- Remove from the pan and loosely cover with foil
- Do a quick temperature check or cut into one chop (the temperature should be less than 145°F and/or the inside of the chop should be still a little pink)
- In the same pan, heat the butter until bubbly, then add apples, onions, garlic, sage, and rosemary
- Cook for about 4 minutes while stirring and occasionally turning the apple pieces.
- Add chicken stock, heavy cream, and Dijon mustard
- Reduce heat and let simmer until the sauce starts to thicken, about 10 minutes (if the sauce reduces too quickly, add some more chicken stock or water; if it won’t thicken, add some apple sauce)
- Taste and add more salt and/or pepper as needed
- Add pork chops back into the pan and baste with the sauce for about 5 minutes or until the internal temperature reads 145°F
- Serve with a French baguette
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