Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Autumn in San Diego, Time for Pork Braised with Apples and Cider

 70 degrees feels like fall here in San Diego after the very hot, humid weather we have been experiencing into October.  I never thought I'd get tired of wearing sandals and tank tops, but I've been jealous of my friends on the East Coast in their new sweaters, and boots.  One of my favorite dishes in cool weather is one we had in Normandy, France, pork braised with apples and cider.  I usually serve this over buttered noodles, but you could serve it over mashed potatoes, or polenta.  It's a great slow cooker recipe, but you can also make it on the stovetop in a Dutch oven.  

Pork Braised with Apples and Cider
Serves 6

1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
Six one-inch-thick loin pork chops (bone-in or boneless---the bones fall off in cooking)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large sweet yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons dried thyme
4 Honey Crisp apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 8 wedges
1 1/2 cups apple cider
2 beef bouillon cubes, or 2 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon beef base
1/3 cup heavy cream (this is optional, but really rounds out the flavor)
2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water
salt and pepper
1 pound wide egg noodles, cooked al dente for serving

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the mustard and sugar.  Spread it onto the pork chops, this is a messy business, but it works. 
  2. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven, and brown the pork chops on both sides.  Remove the pork chops to a plate, and add the onion, thyme and apples to the pot.  Saute until the onions are translucent.
  3. Add the apple cider and bouillon cubes.  
  4. Return the pork to the pan, cover, and cook over medium-low heat (at a simmer) for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the pork is tender.  
  5. Add the cream and the cornstarch mixture.  Bring to a boil, and taste for seasoning.  
  6. Serve the pork over buttered noodles, mashed potatoes or polenta.  
Slow-Cooker Savvy: 
Saute through step 3, then transfer to the slow cooker insert.  Cook on high for 4 hours, or on low for 8 hours.  Add the cream and cornstarch, cook on high for 30 minutes, on low for 1 hour, till thickened.  

Brown the pork chops

Saute onions

Saute apples and thyme
Add the cider, bouillon, and pork to the pot

Add the cream and cornstarch

I served this with sauteed spinach

So I still have no idea what day it is, but I do know that crisp fall days are a welcome relief after hot and humid weeks.  I'm wearing a sweater today, which feels cozy, and the daytime temperature will probably be 70, but it feels like fall!  

I've finally gotten out into the garden to whack away some of the milkweed which feeds the monarch butterflies.  We are hoping they are on their way to Mexico, and we'll see them back here in the spring. 
The wildfire season has been devastating combined with the pandemic, right now we are praying for our friends in Orange County evacuating from the fires that exploded yesterday. 
Stay safe and stay well.  

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