Cider-Braised Pork Chops

It had been too long since I had cooked pork chops. So, when I got this recipe from my big brother, I jumped at the chance to make them. But first I had to run to the grocery store to pick up some apple butter and cider—fall essentials that were missing from my kitchen. A few hours later, the smell of apples and pork was wafting through my house. I served the pork chops and sauce over leftover rice, but it would’ve been equally delicious with mashed potatoes. S had two servings of pork, and C couldn’t shovel the rice and sauce down his pie-hole fast enough.

First, I browned the pork chops in a skillet. Then, I let them simmer covered (in the same skillet) in the oven with a sweet, rich sauce made from apple cider and apple butter. I wanted it to be a one-pot meal, so I added 10 oz. of shredded cabbage to the pan and let it cook alongside the chops and sauce in the oven. But next time, I’ll wait until the chops have been in the oven for 45 minutes before adding the cabbage. That way, there’s still a little bit of crunch to the cabbage when it’s all done. And, I’d choose red cabbage instead to give the dish a little more color. After 90 minutes, the meat was incredibly tender and falling off the bone. If you’re gluten-free I think you could easily skip the flour and thicken the sauce with cornstarch at the end, after whisking in the vinegar, remaining apple butter and parsley.

S took off to school with a rather small serving of leftovers. Guess I’ll have to make more the next time.

Cider-Braised Pork Chops (from CooksCountry.com)

Serves 6

Ingredients

6 bone-in blade-cut pork chops, about 1 inch thick

2 TB vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 cup apple butter

1 cup apple cider

1 sprig fresh thyme

1 tsp cider vinegar

1 TB finely chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Pat chops dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown chops in two batches, about 4 minutes per side; transfer to plate.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from pot and cook onion over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, flour, and 2 tablespoons apple butter and cook until onions are coated and mixture is fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in cider and thyme, scraping up any browned bits with wooden spoon, and bring to boil. Add browned chops and any accumulated juices to pot, cover, and transfer to oven. Braise until chops are completely tender, about 1½ hours.

Transfer chops to serving platter. Strain sauce, then use a shallow spoon to skim off fat. (I didn’t strain the sauce because I added the cabbage.) Whisk in vinegar, parsley, and remaining apple butter. Season with salt and pepper. Serve, passing sauce at table.

Make Ahead: Chops and sauce can be refrigerated separately for up to 2 days. To serve, heat sauce and chops together over medium heat until chops are warmed through.

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