As my apple trees bare their branches against the winter wind and rain coming in off the sea, I thought it a good idea to offer this recipe that makes good use of any lingering garden apples. You may, of course, buy apples at the shop if you don’t have an apple tree. This is an easy recipe that requires thick pork chops, an oven-safe frying pan (can the handle withstand heat?) or a shallow oven-proof casserole dish, a few small apples, some dry cider, sage, and a small bit of cream. We like this one served up with buttery garlic mashed potatoes. It’s comfort food for those cold winter evenings.
Creamy Pork Chops with Braised Apples
2 thick pork chops (about an inch thick)
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon each butter and oil
2 small tart, firm apples (core but do not peel, and slice into eighths )
150ml dry cider
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
50ml double cream
1 teaspoon (or less) wholegrain mustard
Preheat the oven to 160C/Gas Mark 3.
Dredge chops with flour, and shake off the excess. Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan, and when the butter stops foaming, place the chops in the pan. Leave untouched for 2 minutes so it browns well. Check if well browned, and if so, turn over and brown the other side.
Lower the heat under pan, and add the apples, tucking them in between the chops. Cook until the edges of the apple start to brown and turn translucent. If transferring to a casserole dish, do so now – put chops and apples into the dish. Deglaze the pan with the cider, scraping up any browned bits, and then pour over the chops in casserole dish. If leaving chops in the pan, just allow cider to reduce slightly. Cover the casserole dish/pan with foil (or a tight-fitting lid), and place in the oven for 50-60 minutes, or until the chops are tender when poked with a fork.
When cooked, transfer the chops and apples to a warmed bowl, and cover to keep warm. Pour the juices from casserole dish into a pan over med-high heat, add the sage, pepper and mustard. Stir until reduced by half (about 5 minutes) until slightly thickened, and then add cream. Stir well, and allow the sauce to re-thicken again. Check seasoning, and add salt if needed. Dish up the chops and apples, and pour sauce over the top.