Atrix cursed to the nine hells as she hauled the last delivery crate to the cellar. Normally, bushels of apples were something to be grateful for, but an excess was worthless. Most every ingredient withered in the hot suns of Athas, and so few things could grow in the world as it was, that to waste any of it was a cardinal sin. Another mix-up at the Elven market, not surprising since it was run by all manner of ruthless beings. The apples she received at the Thespian Hall were probably rotten, or at the very least stolen. Pilfered from the personal caravan of some noble, or worse yet, the Sorcerer King himself.
Fearing the worst, Atrix raced to the kitchen, to find her father already hard at work at the stoves. “Father, those damned Elves delivered the wrong produce and what’s more, we overpaid. We’ve got an entire orchard’s worth of apples downstairs.” Her father just shrugged and smiled. “Calm yourself Atrix, the world provides and we can do nothing but take what it offers. Bring them here. We shall turn this bounty to our advantage. There are far more uses for apples than just pie and pastry.”
I love the fall cooking season. The harvest of a new crop of wonderful vegetables, all those great spices and aromatics that tell you the holidays are coming and of course the apples. Along with pumpkins, probably the most celebrated ingredient of the season. Most of us come trudging home from the orchard dreaming of fresh pies, homemade apple sauce, mulled cider or the like. This is all well and good, but when the apples runneth over I like to consider applications beyond the sweet. It’s times like this when I put away the pastry and bring out the proteins.
In this case, pork is our protein of choice. I choose to use bone in pork chops, but boneless chops or some other cut would work just fine. The size and thickness of the cut will alter your cook times, so plan accordingly. Regardless, the flavor of pork works really well with apples, but I didn’t want this dish to just be sweet on sweet. Contrast in flavors or textures is always good and can elevate your dishes. Aside from the basic spices, I decided that what was going to set this whole dish off was a little bit of espresso. It may sound a bit crazy, but it is common to find espresso and other coffee being used in rubs and marinades for all sorts of proteins.
The espresso (you’ll notice it used very sparingly) gives some earthy balance to the sweet sauce of sauteed apples. It complements the sweet flavor without overpowering it and lingers at the end of every bite. As for the apples themselves, you can use any variety. I recommend sticking with any of the red types, and if you pick them yourself at the orchard, all the better.
Seared Pork Chop with Apples
Serves dinner for two. Prep and cook time will vary, between 20 and 30 minutes.
Ingredients: (need help with our color guide?)
2 bone in pork chops (around 1 inch thickness)
3 tablespoons butter
2 apples (roughly chopped, peeling is optional)
1/2 cup of apple cider
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon espresso
Salt and pepper to taste
oven safe frying pan
baking pan (if frying pan is not oven safe)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Allow the pork chops to come up near room temperature. Then lightly coat each one with a very thin layer of olive oil.
In a frying pan over medium high heat, sear the pork chops. Place them in the pan and allow a crust to set before moving them. After a few minutes flip both chops.
Once a crust has set place 1/2 a tablespoon of butter on top of each chop and move the frying pan to the oven. If your frying pan is not rated for the oven, transfer the pork chops to a baking pan.
Cook for approximately 12 minutes, or until the center of each chop has moist, yet white flesh with the barest tinge of pink (if any). Remove from the oven and allow the pork chops to rest briefly.
Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, melt one tablespoon of the butter over medium heat. Once it begins to bubble, add in the apples along with a pinch of salt. Stir frequently and allow them to cook.
As the apples begin to break down, add in the nutmeg and cinnamon, incorperating both. Turn the heat up slightly and add the apple cider.
Allow the mixture to reduce until it thickens a bit and the apples are all soft or broken down. Stir in the last tablespoon of butter to give the sauce a smooth, silky texture. Finally, add the espresso to the sauce and stir it in well.
Pour the sauce over the pork chops and serve immediately.
This dish works well with fall accompaniments like sweet potatoes or stuffing.
If you end up with extra apples or sauce, enjoy them over ice-cream.