This recipe takes advantage of brief cooking and a savory-sweet sauce to enhance the simple pork chop. (Maren Caruso)
Pork chops are perfect for quick meals since they don’t take long to prepare. They come from the loin portion of the pig and are available boned and with the bone attached. I prefer the center cut rib chop with the bone attached because the bone adds more moisture to the meat when you cook it — and it also looks pretty. Pork may be the other white meat, but sometimes it can be tasteless and dry. It has been bred to be very lean, which may be good for our waistlines but challenging for our taste buds.
This recipe takes advantage of brief cooking and a savory-sweet sauce to enhance the simple pork chop. Combining dried fruit with fresh apples and apple cider into an autumnal sauce makes this pork chop dish perfect for weeknights or a dinner party.
While many recipes recommend cooking pork to an interior temperature of 160 F, I have found that is too high. The pork should be slightly pink and cooked to 145 F for both optimum flavor and texture. The chops will continue to cook, gaining another 5 degrees of interior temperature, after you take them off the heat, so don’t overcook them. Trichinella spiralis, a parasite found in pork, dies at 137 F, so cooking past that temperature should assure you that your dish would be safe as well as delicious.
Serve these chops with simple buttered noodles, spaetzle or roasted potatoes. A California Zinfandel, a Gewürztraminer or a big Chardonnay would make a nice wine accompaniment.
Braised Pork Chops with Cider and Dried Fruit
1 cup diced dried apricots
½ cup dried cranberries
1 cup apple cider
½ cup water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 apple (Pippin or Granny Smith), peeled, cored and chopped into 1½-inch pieces
1 cup beef or chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons oil
6 bone-in center cut pork chops, 1 ½ inches thick, about ¾ pound each
½cup apple brandy
2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, for garnish
To make the sauce: Bring the dried fruit, apple cider and water to a boil on high heat. Remove from the heat and let soften for 10 minutes.
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of butter on medium-high heat. Saute the onion for about 5 to 7 minutes or until softened and lightly browned. Add the apple pieces and sauté another 2-3 minutes or until nicely coated. Add the softened fruit mixture and broth. Simmer on medium heat for 5 more minutes or until slightly thickened. Add salt and pepper and taste for seasoning. Reserve.
In another large skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of butter and the 2 tablespoons of oil in the pan on medium-high heat. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. Saute the chops for about 5 minutes and then turn over with tongs. Continue cooking until browned and just cooked through, about another 3 minutes. Place the chops on a platter and cover with foil.
Discard the drippings. Over medium heat, add the apple brandy to the pan and deglaze the pan by scraping up the brown bits. Add the reserved fruit sauce and mustard and bring to a simmer, stirring, for 3 minutes, or until the alcohol has burned off. Add salt and pepper and taste for seasoning.
Return the pork chops to the pan and spoon sauce over the chops. Braise for about 3 more minutes or until the pork is heated through but still tender. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately. Serves 6.
Per serving: 244 calories; 11 g fat (4 g saturated fat; 41 percent calories from fat); 37 g carbohydrates; 16 mg cholesterol; 262 mg sodium; 2 g protein; 2 g fiber.
Diane Rossen Worthington is the author of 18 cookbooks and a James Beard award-winning radio show host. Contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com.