Apple Cider Pork Chops
No question, our 70th anniversary has been a delicious celebration of classic dishes. But it’s also been a grand attempt to show how seemingly anachronistic recipes still have a place in today’s kitchens. Take apple cider pork chops: Old-school versions of the dish were typically a little ho-hum, using a basic salt rub for the meat and a sour cream base for the sauce. And though we love Mom and her cooking, the chops themselves tended toward the dry, overcooked persuasion. This recipe is not that — thanks to a trusty kitchen thermometer, which is key to cooking the pork chops perfectly, and some modern aromatic updates.
Specifically, we zhuzh up the salt rub with black peppercorns, whole cloves, allspice berries, and fresh sage — all of which we grind on the spot for maximum flavor. The cloves and allspice give the pork some warm earthiness; the sage, some autumnal herbiness.
While the pork is resting and absorbing all that aromatic goodness, we brown apple slices in a glorious amount of butter so they gently caramelize. Then, we coat the seasoned chops in flour and pan fry them in — you guessed it — more butter, until they’re medium rare.
For the sauce, we reduce hard apple cider and Cognac until it’s nice and syrupy. To give the reduction some body, we whisk in more butter and flour to make a roux — and then some chicken broth and Dijon mustard for savory, punchy depth. And instead of sour cream, we stir in a dollop of crème fraîche, which is thicker, richer, and makes the dish feel a bit more elevated.
Creamy, buttery, tangy, and full of subtle apple-y sweetness, the sauce is lovely spooned over the pork chops — which, by the way, are perfectly juicy. We love the contrast of the tender meat and the delicate crunch of the apple slices. And even with all its modern updates, this iteration of apples and pork chops is still homey and hearty. It’s exactly the sort of meal we want to eat as the temperatures start to drop, preferably with a pile of mashed potatoes, some roasted Brussels sprouts, and a healthy pour of our favorite chardonnay.
Apple Cider Pork Chops
1. To make the salt rub: In a mortar or spice grinder, combine the black peppercorns, cloves, allspice berries, and sage, and grind them into a powder. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and stir in the kosher salt.
2. To make the pork chops: Place the pork chops on a rimmed baking sheet and season both sides with the salt mixture. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
3. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, melt 1 tablespoon unsalted butter. Increase the heat to high and add the apple wedges in one layer. Cook until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the apples to a large plate and set aside.
4. Reduce the heat to medium. Add 4 tablespoons butter to the skillet and swirl to melt. Dust the pork chops with ½ cup all-purpose flour, shaking off any excess, and add them to the pan. Cook until browned, 4 to 5 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 145°. Transfer the pork chops to a plate.
5. Wipe out the skillet. Add the hard apple cider and Cognac to the pan, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 2 tablespoons, 3 to 4 minutes.
6. To make a roux in the skillet, whisk in the remaining 1 ½ tablespoons butter until melted, then whisk in the remaining 1 ½ tablespoons flour. Continuing to whisk, slowly pour in the chicken broth and add the Dijon mustard. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute.
7. Whisk in the crème fraîche, then season with kosher salt. Remove from heat.
8. Transfer the pork chops to a large serving platter. Spoon the sauce over the chops, then scatter the apples around the platter. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and enjoy!