The Apple Week GFCF Recipe Experience: Pork Chops with Apple Gravy
Posted Nov 04 2010 2:26pm
When I was in grade school, we read a short story called "Pork Chops and Applesauce." While the story itself escapes me, I remember that after reading that story I had to have applesauce every time my mom made pork chops.
And why not? Pork and apples have been a happy marriage for at least a couple of millenia. A Roman who lived in the first century AD, Apicus, included in his writings a recipe for minutal matianum, which was a stew or ragout of pork and apples. As early as the 1700s (and possibly much earlier than that) the English were routinely serving pork with applesauce. These days, it seems like there has been an increased emphasis in marketing bacon or other pork-based meat smoked with applewood. And when you see a whole roasted pig, what do you usually see? That's right - an apple in it's mouth!
And then there's the story of a lovely lady who one day met this fellow, and they knew they were much more than a hunch. During the Brady Bunch's run to pop culture history, even Peter Brady declared: "Pork chops and applesauce. Isn't that swell?"
But why are pork and apples so happy together? A recent post by Margot, who blogs at Sour, Salty, and Bittersweet , offers some plausible explanations
Pigs love apples. Pigs raised near an apple orchard have traditionally been allowed to graze on the windfall apples; that is, those apples that are left on the orchard floor. And because there are usually a lot of windfall apples left in the orchard (and unfit for human consumption) they make a great animal feed. Let them ferment for a bit, and a pig is in...well...hog heaven.
Fats and Acids. Pork can be fatty. Apple are acidic. And this pairing works well together. The acidity of the apples balances the fattiness of the pork and aids in its digestion.
'Tis the Season. Pork and apples are both considered Fall foods. That is, the apple harvest coincides with the time of year that pigs are typically slaughtered. And while today there are numerous ways to preserve meat to last throughout the year, that wasn't always the case. As people would cut and prepare the pork right away, apples, being in abundance at the same time, became a natural complement.
I agree with Margot - it's probably a combination of all three. But whatever the reason, it's a sure bet that pork and apples will be happily married for at least another couple of millenia.
Today's featured Apple Week recipe was adapted from a recipe by the folks at Taste of Home and is a great example of how pork and apples work together. Cooking the pork in apple juice tenderized the meat and gave it just a hint of apple flavor. The gravy was tart yet sweet at the same time. And the onion and apple mixture was the perfect topping.
You can check the original recipe, which was for apple-glazed pork, here . I made some modifications - I used 6 boneless pork chops instead of the 4 bone-in center cut chops, and increased the ingredients used in proportion. I used my standard CF butter substitute, Earthbalance Buttery Sticks. And instead of a glaze, I just made the pan juices into a gravy.
The result, served with a salad, it was a fantastic Sunday dinner that was enjoyed by all.
PORK CHOPS WITH APPLE GRAVY Adapted from a Recipe Found at Taste of Home
6 boneless pork chops
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups apple juice (or apple cider)
3 Tbsp light brown sugar, divided
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 Tbsp water
2 large tart apples, cored and sliced
1/2 cup sliced onion
2 Tbsp CF butter
Heat 1 1/2 Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add half the pork chops and brown for 3 -4 minutes on each side. Repeat with the remaining oil and pork chops. Remove the pork chops from the skillet.
Combine the apple juice, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, salt, rosemary, and thyme in the skillet. Add the pork chops back and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 7-8 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 155° to 160°.
While the pork is simmering, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the apples, onion, and remaining brown suger and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the apples and onion are tender, stirring occasionally.
When the pork is finished cooking remove it to a plate and bring the remaining liquid to a boil. Mix the cornstartch and water completely and add it to the skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes or until thickened.
To serve, place the pork on a plate and spoon gravy over the top. Top that with some of the apple-onion mixture.