I rummaged around in my freezer to see what sort of meat might be lurking in the chilly bin. I found a package of pork chops which I don’t remember buying recently, which meant it was time to use them up.
Normally, I fry pork chops with a few spices or fresh herbs but wanted to do something different. I like the sweet and savory combination of pork with apples, so decided to combine them in a braised dish.
I’m not sure why I bought granny smith apples last week. Actually, I shouldn’t say that … I do know why I bought them. I’m embarrassed to admit I like the color of them and how nicely they look in a bowl on my kitchen counter … *sigh* … I bought them purely for aesthetics and then felt guilty I might waste them.
Fortunately, this meal gets me one apple closer to ridding my kitchen of the granny smith’s. Unfortunately, it gets me one apple closer to a bowl void of vibrant green color. On my kitchen counter I keep 3 bowls which hold a mix of potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, and fruits. I love having everything on display — I *love* looking at my food. Somehow, Joe puts up with me and my little quirks. However, he does take issue when I sometimes decide to mix bananas and garlic in the same bowl. He can be such a separatist at times.
I’m sure you’re wondering from the photo of this meal if I’m going to consider it a success or failure. I’ll admit that this dinner doesn’t look appetizing … kind of a brownish mess. But sometimes things that are ugly actually taste quite lovely. Lucky for me this is one of those times.
I internally debated about which spices to use with the pork and apples. Cinnamon leapt to mind first but seemed too blah, too much like apple pie (and nobody wants pork in their apple pie). I decided to go with a simple pre-mixed blend that I love with pork and figured would work perfectly with apples too, chinese five spice. The brand I use contains cinnamon, anise, star anise, cloves, and ginger. I decided to further bolster the flavors by including a bit of molasses and soy sauce with just a bit of sweetness from honey.
2 pork chops
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 tsp. chinese five-spice
1 granny smith apple (cored & cut in 12 slices)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon molasses
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons butter
black pepper to taste
Begin by preheating the oven to 375 degrees. Rub both sides of pork chops with the five-spice blend and sprinkle with freshly cracked black pepper.
Heat a dutch oven on the stove. Add the olive oil, then add the pork chops. Allow the chops to get a nicely browned color. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side then remove from pan.
Add onion and apples to the pan. Cook for 4-6 minutes until they begin to soften. Add remaining ingredients and scrape any stuck on bits from the bottom of the pan. Place the pork chops into the pan and cover with the apples.
Place covered pan into the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until pork chops are done. If you’d like the sauce a bit thicker, remove pork chops and reduce the sauce on the stovetop. I didn’t mind the somewhat thin sauce (and was hungry, so didn’t want to spend the time), but taking a few more minutes to thicken the sauce is definetly an option. Remember to check the seasonings to see if you need any further salt or pepper. The soy sauce added enough salt for me so I didn’t add any extra.
I enjoyed how this turned out – finally, something I can do with granny smith apples! When I first added the ingredients to the pan, the flavors hadn’t yet combined and I worried whether I was making a disaster. It smelled mostly of molasses and didn’t seem all that appetizing. However, as the dish cooked in the oven the flavors blended to form a lightly sweet and rich sauce (the butter really pulls it all together).
It’s important to note that I used dark soy sauce in this recipe. Dark soy sauce is thicker and richer than normal soy sauce. It reminds me of molasses and that’s why I decided to combine the two. They both offer a richer and bolder flavor, but use in small doses.
I served the chops and apples over a bed of steamed rice. Overall, it also made for a quick and delicious one-pot dinner. The only thing I would try next time is to make it somehow ‘prettier’.