Beef, Veal, Pork, and Lamb The Book

31. Pork Chops With Sautéed Apples and Cider Cream Sauce p.480

Sorry, no recipe this time

The sautéed apples and cider cream sauce were absolute stars, but the pork chops themselves were a pretty indifferent base for this recipe. It starts with the cream sauce (shallots softened in butter, cooked together with apple cider, cider vinegar, sage, chicken stock, and heavy cream), then the chops are cooked through in a heavy skillet, and the apples are cooked in the pan juices with a bit of butter once the chops are done. The apples caramelized beautifully, and took on the best of the pork’s flavours from the fond in the pan. The sauce was creamy with an enticing acid bite which contrasted the sweetness in the apples. As I’ve mentioned I love sage, and I’m always happy to see it make an appearance outside of turkey stuffings.

The chops themselves were indifferent. This is probably both my fault and that of industrial agriculture. I’m far from the first person to bemoan the lack of flavour in today’s pork. I’m too young to look wistfully back on the halcion days when every pig farm was just like in “Charlotte’s Web”, but the state of industrial pig farming today is pretty disgusting. Beyond the objections of PETA and everyone of any moral fibre, the pork that those factory farms produce doesn’t taste very good. More ethically raised meat just tastes more pork-y. Of course those sun-kissed and morally unblemished pigs are going to set you back a chunk of change. For that reason I’m going to continue eating pigs raised in deplorable conditions a good part of the time, and so are most people for the foreseeable future.

The problem with the mega-mart super pack chops in this recipe was the cooking method. They’re pan fried with salt and pepper, and that’s it. They give up their flavour to the sauce, and you’re left with dry tough and flavourless chops. The cheap-o chops just don’t do well with dry cooking methods. I raved about Pork Chops With Onion Marmalade, which was exactly the same meat, just using a wet cooking method. This kept the pork moist, and added a lot of flavour to the meat itself. Brining these chops before cooking them could have kept them moist and added flavour too. As it was they didn’t really add much to the dish.

A note on photography: Experience has taught me that photos of a big plate of meat really don’t look very nice. I’ll stop inflicting photos like the above on you ASAP.

Rating this one is a bit tricky, the apples and sauce were out of this world, and the pork wasn’t terrible, just indifferent. I suspect that if I’d used thicker chops, and ideally better quality pork this could have come out as a five mushroom recipe. I can’t really hold The Book accountable for me choosing to cut corners and buy less than stellar ingredients. On the other hand, most people making this recipe are going to use the same chops I did, and they should have tested this recipe with the ingredients their readers are likely to use.

Beef, Veal, Pork, and Lamb The Book

29. Pork Chops With Onion Marmalade p.480

the recipe

I made these for a bunch of hungry hungry boys during a trip to Toronto. It was a nice change from pizza and bar food. Our dinner was a quiet moment in the midst of a rowdy weekend. We sipped wine, listened to light jazz, and enjoyed some classic comfort food. Pork chops, green beans, mashed potatoes, and apple sauce; sounds like a stereotypical home cooked meal. It was delicious.

As a side note, cooking in someone else’s kitchen is a deeply weird experience. It’s almost like looking through their medicine cabinet. They keep their pots there? Why do they need HP sauce in an industrial size bottle? Is it a faux pas to joke about the bottle of Emeril’s spice mix? It also highlights how many little things you know about your own kitchen (Of course the top left burner only gives 2/3 the heat of the bottom right). Also, I’m almost guaranteed to cut myself when I’m not working with my own knives. I’ve started bringing a few of my own things with me when I know I’ll be cooking somewhere else, but it feels a bit rude.

These chops came together easily. They’re seared first, then cooked through in a broth made from the pan juices, onions, balsamic, and red currant jelly. I admit, I cheated and just used a jelly from the fridge, it was red though. The recipe called for boneless centre-cut chops; as I was feeding a crowd I bought the super-pack from the mega-mart. Some of them were boneless, some bone-in, all delicious. I think I tripled the recipe (sextupled the linked recipe), and the liquid proportions were off, but I adjusted and everything came out fine.

The key to these was the dried rosemary. Fresh herbs are superior to dried for almost all applications. This isn’t one of them. The rosemary is with the chops right from the initial sear, so they’re contributing to the flavour from the beginning and because the rosemary ends up in the broth it’s rehydrated by the time the dish is done. The rosemary flavour permeated the whole dish. I don’t think you could have gotten this penetration using fresh, I suspect a lot of the flavour developed during the initial sear. Fresh would just have burned, but the dried stuff held up well.

These were satisfying, came together easily, and didn’t cost a fortune. They’re a winner.