Thick Pork Chops with Spiced Apples and Raisins

Pork ChopOver the weekend I went to my former residence, now owned by my brother-in-law, to raid the apple tree. Each year it seems this tree produces more and more apples and it’s basically impossible to do something with all of them. My brother in law will eat what he can but he’s single. He’s not going to be home on the weekends canning. He has other pursuits.

So I arrived armed with three bushel baskets and with the intention of picking the apples and making both applesauce and apple chutney. Applesauce is, frankly, the easiest thing in the world to make and it has so many uses. My kids will eat it right out of the jar with a spoon. (Or, in a lesser moment, their fingers. I’m so proud.) And it’s great with yogurt or mixed into pancake batter. I make the chutney because there is nothing like a grilled panini or open faced sandwich with some arugula, a thick slice of ham, some Irish Dubliner and a dollop of tangy apple chutney on good french bread. Add some butternut squash soup to that and you have yourself one perfect and colorful Fall lunch or dinner.

Needless to say, I now find myself with more apples than I know what to do with so I am trying to use apples as much as I can which means I have been cooking more pork lately. For me there is no better flavor match up than apples and pork. One of my favorite recipes is from Tyler Florence and is listed below. The pork chops are definitely tasty (brining is a must!) and a pork roast will work well too but the main reason I make it is because of the warm compote. The pork is just the vessel for the apples and raisins.

Then again, you could just skip the pork altogether and use a spoon… or your fingers.

Thick Pork Chops with Spiced Apples and Raisins
Recipe adaped from Tyler Florence
Yields 4 servings

Pork Chops
1 gallon water
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sea salt
1 cup frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed—or boiled cider
1 1/2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
2 fresh thyme sprigs
4 double-cut bone-in loin pork chops, 1 pound each
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil

Spiced Apples and Raisins
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced in 1/2-inch-thick wedges
Leaves from 2 fresh thyme sprigs
1/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch dry mustard
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lemon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Make the Brine
In a mixing bowl combine the water, brown sugar, sea salt, apple juice concentrate, peppercorns, and thyme. Stir well to dissolve the sugar and salt. Transfer the mixture to an extra-large plastic bag with a good seal. Submerge the pork chops in the brine, seal the bag, and place it in the refrigerator for 2 hours to tenderize the meat. **Do not brine longer or the meat will break down and become mushy.

Remove the pork chops from the brine and pat them dry with paper towels. Sprinkle both sides of the meat with salt and pepper. Put a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add a 3-count drizzle of olive oil and get it hot. Lay 2 pork chops in the pan (most likely only 2 of these massive pork chops will fit comfortably) and brown 4 minutes per side. Remove the pork chops to a large baking pan; brown the remaining 2 chops and add them to the others in the pan. Put the baking pan in the oven and roast the chops for 30 minutes. The pork is done when the center is still rosy and the internal temperature reads 140 to 145 degrees F when tested with an instant-read thermometer.

While the chops cook, melt the butter in a clean skillet over medium-low heat. Add the apples and thyme and coat in the butter; cook and stir for 8 minutes to give them some color. Toss in the raisins and add the apple juice, stirring to scrape up the brown bits. Stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and dry mustard; season with salt and pepper. Squeeze in the juice from the lemon to wake up the flavor and simmer for 10 minutes or until the apples break down and soften. Spoon the spiced apples over the pork chops.

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