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Recipe

Pork Chops and Charred Applesauce

Nicole Franzen

Servings: 4 (yields 1 pint applesauce)

This applesauce is a great larder staple. The smokiness from charring takes away some of the apples’ natural tartness, the caramelized sugars give it a rich, complex taste, and the charred bits add smokiness. Pork chops have a bad rap as bone-dry hunks of pale, sad-looking protein. But when cooked right, they are flavorful and golden and tender. If you want, you can brine the pork chops first, which makes them extra juicy.

Ingredients

For the applesauce

  • 4 apples, such as Braeburn, Cortland, or Fuji (or ask your farmer for recommendations)
  • Splash of good-quality apple cider, more if needed
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Salt
  • Honey (optional)

For the pork chops

  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 2 1-1/2-inch-thick pork chops, preferably double bone-in, which you can request at the butcher
  • Grapeseed oil
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • Leaves from 1 sprig fresh rosemary or a few fresh sage leaves, chopped fine (optional)
  • Coarse sea salt

Preparation

Make the applesauce

  • Preheat your oven to 400°F and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  • Line your stovetop with foil to avoid a big cleanup later. Arrange the apples, unpeeled, on your stove ’s burners. (If you have an electric stove, you can broil the apples instead—just place the rack close to the broiler and keep an eye on the apples.) They might be hard to balance on the grates at first, but don’t be tempted to use a cooling rack as a stabilizer, especially if yours is made of thinner metal. It might melt. Hit the apples with high heat, occasionally turning the apples, and allow all four sides of the apple to blacken, about 1 minute per side.
  • Once the apples are pretty evenly charred, transfer them to the baking sheet and throw them in the oven. Roast until a cake tester easily slides into the flesh, usually 30 to 40 minutes, but check every 10 minutes or so to gauge their progress; some apples cook much faster than others. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool enough to handle.
  • Using your hands, separate the skins from the flesh and set aside. They should fall away pretty easily. Using a spoon and/or your fingers, scoop the flesh into a bowl, discarding core and seeds. At this point it’s basically already a nice and chunky applesauce, but you can adjust the consistency to your liking.
  • Adding a splash of cider will loosen it up a bit, but bear in mind that it will thicken as it sits in the fridge. Of the skin you’ve put aside, sort out about a quarter of it, choosing some of the more charred pieces. Give it a rough chop, then add it into the bowl. Grate in some cinnamon and add salt, both to taste. If you want it sweeter, add honey.

Make the pork chops

  • Make the brine by combining the kosher salt with 4 cups of water in a large plastic zipper-lock bag or a bowl big enough so the chops can be fully submerged. Place the chops into the brine and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or up to 6 hours. Remove the chops from the brine, rinse, and pat very dry. Discard the brine. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and add enough oil to generously coat the bottom of the pan.
  • Carefully place the chops in the skillet. Keep an eye on the meat; often it will contract when it hits the heat and create a concave surface over the pan. Using a spoon or spatula, hold the center of the meat down so that it sears evenly. Once the meat is golden brown, turn over and repeat.
  • Once browned on the second side, transfer the meat to a cooling rack placed over a baking sheet and roast in the oven. Use a metal cake tester to test for doneness after about 15 minutes; the cake tester should feel just hot enough that you can keep it on your lip for about 1 second, about 135°F for medium-rare.
  • When your meat is done, allow it to rest in a warm place for almost half of its total cooking time.
  • Reheat the skillet over medium heat and add the butter. When the butter foams, add the pork back to the pan, and carefully tip the pan toward you and baste the chops with a spoon. Allow the pork to rest another minute or two before slicing. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and serve with the applesauce.

Tip

Recipes reprinted from Twenty Dinners. Copyright © 2015 BY Ithai Schori and Chris Taylor. Photos by Nicole Franzen. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

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