Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Dressing Up The Pig

Good evening everyone! Ever since we introduced pork to our 'menu' late last year, we've been experimenting with its rather versatile flavor. While the standard pork chop on its own is bland and uninspiring (dry, sometimes tough (as it is easily overcooked) and overall a forgettable flavor) pork spruced up with a sweet or citrus inspired glaze becomes a culinary delight. We've tried both ends of the flavor palette for pork; sweet in our Skillet Glazed Pork Chops recipe and citrusy in our Pineapple Pork Chop recipe. Tonight, we're blending the two by creating a glaze with a sweet apple cider and adding natural 'sour' flavors from a granny smith apple. Will pork's amazing versatility shine again? Let's find out:

The Recipe: Apple Cider Pork Chops
Original Recipe Found On: foodnetwork.com

What You'll Need:

2-4 Boneless Pork Loin Chops (Trimmed of fat, about 1/2 inch thick preferred)
2 Teaspoons Fresh Sage (1/2 Teaspoon dried)
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Divided)
1 Medium Red Onion (Cut into 1/2 inch wedges)
1 Granny Smith Apple (Cut into 1/2 inch pieces)
1/2 Teaspoon All Purpose Flour
3/4 Cup Apple Cider

Begin by lightly rubbing both sides of the pork chops with the sage (if fresh) or sprinkling the sage evenly over all sides (if dried). Lightly season the pork chops (again, both sides) with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Set the pork chops aside.

In a large (12 inch) non stick skillet, add 1 teaspoon of olive oil and set the heat to high. Warm the oil until it begins to shimmer lightly before adding the pork to the skillet. Allow the pork to cook, undisturbed, for about 3 minutes on each side, or until a nice golden brown crust forms on the edges of the pork chop.

Remove the pork from the skillet and transfer the chops to a plate lightly tented with aluminum foil. The original recipe calls for you to wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel and add the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the skillet. However, I prefer to leave the residue behind (it's great flavor) and simply add the oil right in on top of it all. Reduce the heat to medium high and add the onion and apples. Allow this mixture to cook for about 5 or until the onions become translucent and the apples have slightly browned. Sprinkle this mixture lightly with salt and add the cider to the skillet.

Bring the mixture to a light boil before returning your pork to the skillet. Nestle the pork chops in amongst the apple and onion mixture and allow them to cook for 4 to 6 minutes, making sure to turn the chops about halfway through cooking. Once the chops have reached 145 degrees at their thickest point, they're ready to serve. Drizzle the chops with the sauce from the pan and enjoy. This dish pairs well with mashed potatoes or sweet corn.

*Note - if you'd like a thicker sauce all you have to do is add a little flour at the end. Just before serving, remove the pork chops from the skillet and stir in 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of all purpose flour. This should help thicken up the sauce, creating a nice glaze rather than the 'soupy' result the original recipe produces. This step isn't part of the standard recipe, but we highly recommend this light deviation - the end sauce is much more enjoyable when it's slightly thicker.

The Results:

There's a reason they also stick an apple in the pig's mouth when roasting it over an open fire - apples and pigs go together splendidly!
As far as a nice and easy weeknight meal goes - it doesn't get better than this. We've shown with past recipes that the best way to keep pork moist is to allow it to stew in some form of sauce or juice and that method continues to work in this dish. The result was an amazing juicy pork chop that was infused with a perfect blend of sweet (from the cider) and sour (granny smith) the natural 'bite' of the red onion managed to play a great mediator to all of the flavors - resulting in a tasty and quick recipe that the whole family can enjoy.

That's all we have for you tonight. Maggie takes to the kitchen tomorrow night with a pasta dish that she has been eagerly waiting to cook up. It's sure to be another tasty dish, so stop in and see what she's got cooking tomorrow night. Until then,


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