I have been on a pork overload the past three days and it all started with this local update of a classic. I used to be wary of pork – it was often tough and got a bad rap for being unclean. But as I started to read more about the horror of industrialized meat, I realized it wasn’t the poor piggy’s fault that his offerings had all sorts of nasties in it (or was tasteless), it was the manner in which the poor animal lived and was slaughtered. Now that I know my pork (and other meat) comes from a clean, humane local farm, I feel as if I am honoring the noble swine when I cook it. And the result is the best tasting pork chop I have ever eaten.
Now that pork is back in my life on a regular basis, I found that the best way to prep the meat is to brine it overnight. This time I dissolved abt a 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup salt in 5 or so cups of water (enough to cover two 1 inch chops – multiply the recipe as needed). I added a few allspice, two bay leaves, 1 T chopped rosemary and some peppercorns and let this all work its magic for 24 hours in the fridge.
For the savory applesauce I rough chopped 3 large local cortland apples and started softening them in a sauce pan on medium with a swirl of olive oil and a tablespoon or so of chicken stock. I put the top on and let them cook. After maybe 5 minutes I checked in and added a few leaves of chopped sage and half of a thinly sliced scallion (both from the garden), a tablespoon of butter, and a pinch of salt and few turns of pepper, and cooked it until the scallion was soft and the apples were a chunky applesauce consistency. (A note on the next time I make this: I would peel the apples first instead of leaving the skins on, and I might brown the sage and scallion in 1 – 2 T of butter and then add it to the sauce near the end. A bit of chopped, fresh rosemary might be nice too.) I was really trying to toe the line of sweet and savory with this applesauce, and I think this succeeded. I will definitely keep tweaking!
To cook the chops I heated 1 T olive oil and 1 T butter in a cast iron skillet and browned one side then the other (seasoning with s&p as needed). When each side had a nice crust (3 minutes/ side) I just finished heating them through in a warm (200 – 250 degrees) oven for a few minutes while we started the meal. These approxiamate times are for 1 inch, bone-in chops – if they are much thinner or thicker, times must be adjusted! I don’t do thermometers (although maybe I should), I just do the poke test – a done chop will be pretty firm, but still have a bit of give from its delicious juices – and also check to see if it is starting to come away from the bone. Especially with fresh, clean, local pork, you don’t have to cook the chop to death!
I served the sauce on the chop and it was a revelation.