After seeing several recipes for pork with apples, I decided to see what all the fuss was about...so here's my own take on this popular combination. To go with my Pork Chops with Apples & Shallots I had two sides - Roasted Red Onion & Butternut Squash and Creamy Pecorino Polenta.
Pork Chops with Apples & Shallots
large regular (NOT non-stick) sauté pan
1 butterflied boneless pork chop (I found them individually available at my grocery; the chop was 3/4 lb)
2 T butter
1 granny smith apple
1 golf-ball-sized shallot
3 T vinegar (apple cider or red wine, not balsamic)
3 T water
1 t whole-grain mustard
1 T chopped fresh rosemary (fresh thyme would also be lovely)
Lay the butterflied boneless chop flat (open) on a cutting board. Each half of mine was approximately 3/4 inch thick. Cut the chop to separate the two halves, and then halve (butterfly) each of the two halves, resulting in 4 1/2 inch chops. If necessary, place a piece of plastic wrap over the pieces and bang with a heavy pan (I used the bottom of my stovetop espresso maker) to make them all an even thickness. Salt and pepper the side facing up. Heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the saute´ pan over medium-high heat until the pan is hot, then add the pork, seasoned side down, so the pieces aren't touching each other. Don't move them! This searing without moving will give them great carmelization. Season the up-side with salt and pepper. While the chops are cooking on Side 1 (about 3-4 minutes), peel and coarsely chop the shallot. Peel, quarter, core, and chop the apple into bite-size chunks. Pull the rosemary leaves from the sprigs (about 5 sprigs will yield 1 T chopped) and chop. Flip the pork onto the other side and let cook for 1-2 minutes, until there's some color - obviously this side will cook faster than the first. Remove the pork to a plate.
Turn the heat down to medium-low. Add the 2 T butter, and using a wooden spoon, swirl and melt it into the pan, scraping up all the bits from the pork. When the butter starts turning brown, add the chopped shallots and apples, stirring to coat in the butter. Cook the mixture on medium-low heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently and allowing the shallots and apples to start developing a nice brown color and sweat slightly. Then kick the heat up to medium-high, add the 3 T of vinegar (being careful not to breath in the fumes) and 3 T water, and continue to stir everything for another minute. Add the mustard and a dash of salt (to taste), stir, then add the pork chops back in along with their juices to warm through. Sprinkle the rosemary over the top, and serve immediately.
What's a great side to go with this starting-to-become-autumn main dish? Butternut squash, fresh from the Green City Market.
Roasted Red Onion & Butternut Squash
baking sheet with sides (fitted with foil for easy cleanup)
1 small butternut squash
1/2 red onion
1 T chopped fresh rosemary (if using thyme with the pork, use thyme here)
Preheat oven to 375°. Peel, seed and chop the butternut squash into bite-size chunks. Chop the red onion into several large chunks. Spread on the baking sheet, sprinkle with several T olive oil, then liberally season with salt, pepper and rosemary. Mix it all around with your hands and spread in one layer. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through. (Tip: If you do this and put in the oven right before you start getting things together for the pork, it will be perfect timing).
It's nice to have a starch, right?
Creamy Pecorino Polenta
1 cup water
1/4 cup quick-cooking polenta
1 T butter
1/8 cup pecorino-romano cheese, grated
Bring the water to a boil, then slowly add the polenta while stirring. Continue
to stir for about 3 minutes until polenta is thickened. Add the butter and
cheese and stir to melt. Serve immediately! (or it will quickly turn into
polenta bars! Which actually wouldn't be terrible... )