Last time, I was uncertain if I created the recipe or not.
This time, I know it’s all me.
As a cook, this dish is really special. On the weekly menu, I wrote “pork chops with apples and onions,” but when I got in the kitchen it turned into something pretty awesome. I just got inspired by the ingredients. And I knew the techniques that would make the dish great; I practiced them last autumn: the Sear, the Deglaze, the Reduction. Learn those and you can cook any piece of meat in a pan, and make a sauce for it at the same time. Don’t worry, we’ll cover that later.
What inspired this dish was the food combo, pork and apples. They just go together. Apples like earthy spices like cinnamon and cloves. Pork likes fennel seed. This dish practically made itself. Those ingredients combined with the techniques above make a dish worth writing about. Ain’t cooking great? Doesn’t have to be complicated, either.
A few notes about this particular dish:
- we don’t drink apple juice here in the geek’s kitchen, but it is nice to have some around for sauces and such. The solution? Drink boxes! Little single-serving portions of apple juice that keep forever and are the perfect size for cooking.
- I used pre-cut pork chops from the grocery store for this, so they were quite thin, which are hard to cook right; the ideal would be pork chops between 3/4 inch and 1 inch thick.
- for the white wine, I prefer to use real white wine. The cooking wine you get in the grocery store is salted – so boozy hobos don’t drink it – which will throw your seasoning off. Little Penguin has these plastic-bottled Chardonnay-Riesling combos that are a great price.
- 2 medium red onions, chopped
- 3 medium apples, peeled, cored and chopped
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves
- 4 pork chops, boneless, about 3/4 inch thick
- 1 tbsp fennel seed
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- salt, pepper, olive oil
In a sauté pan over medium heat, add the oil. Once shimmering, add the onions, toss to coat in the oil and fry for a few minutes until the onions soften. Add the apples. Toss again. Let the apples and onions cook a while longer, 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the cinnamon stick, cloves and season with salt and pepper. Toss occasionally. The longer you cook these the better. I typically go at least 35 minutes and shoot for 50.
In a mortar and pestle, add the fennel seed, salt and pepper. Grind it up and cover each side of each chop with the seasoning.
Heat a pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add olive oil. Place the pork chops in the pan such that they aren’t touching. If they’re too crowded, they’ll steam instead of sear and you won’t get a tasty dinner. Cook the chops until cooked through, turning once. You want each side golden, about 4 minutes a side. Remove the chops to a cutting board to rest.
Deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping the pan for all those delicious brown bits. Turn your heat to high, and reduce the wine to almost gone. Look for big, slow bubbles. Add the apple juice and reduce again to almost gone. Finally, add the cream and stir to combine. Continue to cook for about 30 seconds more. I find there’s no reason to season, since the brown bits are salty enough, but taste your sauce to make sure.
Plate a chop and a generous serving of the apples and onions. Cover with the sauce. Serve immediately. Goes with wilted greens.