Apple Cider Pork ChopsNovember 6, 2017 By Cathy — 6 Comments
Tender pork chops are quickly brined before being seared and cooked with apples and onions in a flavorful cider sauce.
Pork chops and applesauce. Growing up, my brothers and I watched every episode of the Brady Bunch over and over (up until Cousin Oliver arrived on the scene 👎), but Peter Brady’s delivery of this iconic phrase was legendary in my house. This episode was easily our favorite, followed closely by the one featuring Peter’s volcano science project and the episode when Mike and Carol install a payphone in the den to teach the kids a lesson about cost of their excessive phone use.
The Brady Bunch was hokey and saccharine and silly and we were as devoted to making fun of it as we were to watching the reruns everyday. We would recite all of our favorite lines right along with Marcia or Greg and many of these sayings and references still turn up in our conversations today. So much so that I can almost never make pork chops without thinking of Peter Brady (doing his best Humphrey Bogart impersonation) telling his dad that they are having pork chops and applesauce for dinner.
So I bet you’ll never guess what inspired today’s recipe? It’s not quite pork chops and applesauce, but it’s close. I used apple cider in a quick brine for thick cut, bone-in pork chops and then seared the brined chops over high heat to get a caramelized crust. The chops are removed from the pan and kept warm, and then sliced apples and onions are cooked until tender in an apple cider sauce seasoned with fresh sage and stone ground mustard. The seared chops finish cooking in the apple-y sauce and are served alongside the apples and onions with the rich sauce spooned over the top.
I recommend serving these atop creamy mashed potatoes or pureed squash or sweet potatoes to soak in all of that goodness. And I know you may be tempted to skip the brine in the interest of saving time, but don’t! It not only adds a layer of flavor, but the brine makes the chops extra tender and juicy. Giving pork chops a quick soak in a brine before cooking is the only way I’ll make them now. You can substitute water for the cider in a recipe with a different flavor profile, but in this Peter Brady inspired dish, we’re going full apple.
- Apple Cider Brine
- 2 cups apple cider
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 4 fresh sages leaves rough chopped or torn
- 2 cloves garlic smashed
- 2 cups ice
- Apple Cider Pork Chops
- 2 Tbsp canola oil
- 4 - 1 inch thick bone-in pork chops
- 1 medium onion peeled, halved and sliced thinly into half moons
- 1 apple cored, halved and sliced thinly into half moons
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup apple cider
- 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Tbsp stone ground or whole grain mustard
- 1 tsp fresh sage minced
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter cold
- salt and pepper to taste
Apple Cider Brine: Combine the cider, sugar, salt, sage and garlic in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat just until the sugar and salt are dissolved, stirring frequently.
Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the ice. Allow the ice to melt and be sure the brine is fully cooled before pouring it over the chops.
Apple Cider Pork Chops: Place the chops in a baking dish in an even layer. Pour the cooled brine over the chops, being sure they are fully submerged. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for one hour.
Remove the chops from the brine and pat dry.
Heat the oil in a cast iron or large skillet until very hot, but not smoking. Carefully lay the chops in an even layer and sear on each side until browned, about 3 mins per side. Remove the chops to a plate and cover.
Reduce the heat to med/high and add the onions and apple slices. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the onions and apples are browned and beginning to caramelize, about 8 mins. Remove the onions and apples to a plate and cover to keep warm.
Deglaze the pan with the white wine and cook until reduced by half. Add the cider, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard and sage. Cook until thickened and glossy and mixture is reduced to 1/4, about 8-10 mins, Swirl in the butter and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Turn the heat to low and return the chops and any accumulated juices to the pan. Turn the chops to coat. Add the apples and onions and cook over low heat until the chops are cooked through, about 5 mins more (internal temperature of 120 - 125 degrees F).
Serve the pork chops with the apples and onions and additional sauce spooned over the top.