November 8, 2013

Bear Essentials: Apples
( + Cider-Brined Pork Chops with Creamed Leeks and Apples )

                      I thought I'd make you a tower of food today. 

First we've got a pile of leeks [ which are one of nature's funner vegetables ], thinly sliced and sauteed in butter until they melt down to almost nothing.  They're like onions, but sweeter and kinder and greener and altogether better.  And because we're not the type to leave well enough alone, we're going to add piles of salt and pepper and more than a smidge of cream.  Expect to lose about half the recipe to nibbling before you've got the rest of dinner ready.  I barely had enough left to take these pictures.  Whoops.

Next we're going to brine some thick-cut pork chops in spiced apple cider.  This is not a poor life choice on our part.  It keeps the pork incredible juicy and tender when we broil it.  You could grill instead, but that would require you to have a grill.  I broiled.  

And then, because too much is never enough, we're going to saute up some apples with a bit of sugar to help with caramelization, then saute them in broth and cider and apple liqueur until they're soft and fragrant.

Leeks on plate.  

Pork on leeks.  

Apples on pork.


Cider-Brined Pork Chops 
with Creamed Leeks and Apples
by Sanford D'Amato of Coquette Cafe
in Bon Appetit

Apple Cider  [ 4 1/4 cups ]
Coarse Salt  [ 3 tablespoons ]
Allspice Berries  [ 6 ]
Bay Leaf  [ 1 ]
Thick-Cut Pork Chops  [ 4, about 10 ounces each ]

Unsalted Butter  [ 4 tablespoons ]
Leeks  [ 5 large, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced into half-moons ]
Whipping Cream   [ 1 cup ]

Granny Smith Apples  [ 1 1/2 pounds, each apple peeled, cored, and cut into 8 wedges ]
Sugar  [ 2 tablespoons ]
Chicken Broth  [ 1/2 cup ]
Calvados  [ 1/3 cup ]

Olive Oil [ for brushing ]

1.   Place Pork Chops in a 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish.
2.   In a large pot, bring 4 cups of the Cider, Salt, Allspice and Bay Leaf to a boil.
3.   Stir to make sure that all Salt is dissolved.
4.   Cool Brine completely.
5.   When cool, pour Brine over Pork Chops in baking dish.
6.   Cover pan and refrigerate overnight.

7.   In a large pan over Medium-Low heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the Butter.
8.   Add Leeks and saute until tender [ about 7-10 minutes ]
9.   Add Cream and simmer until mixture is slightly thickened [ about 3 minutes ]
10.   Season to taste with Salt and Pepper.
11.  Set Leeks aside.

12.   In a large nonstick pan over Medium heat, melt remaining 2 tablespoons of the Butter.
13.   Add Apples; saute 10 minutes.
14.   Add Sugar; saute until Apples are golden  [ about 6 minutes ]
15.   Add Broth, Calvados and remaining 1/4 cup of the Cider.
16.   Simmer, stirring occasionally, until Apples are tender and liquid thickens slightly [ about 5 minutes ]
17.   Set Apple Mixture aside.

18.   Heat broiler.
19.   Drain Pork Chops, rinse each under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels.
20.   Brush Pork Chops with Olive Oil.
21.   Broil Pork Chops until done, turning over halfway through [ about 4-5 minutes per side ].
22.   Rewarm Leeks and Apples if necessary.  
23.   Serve Pork on a bed of Leeks, topped with Apples.

Serves 4-6

   Further proof that Pork loves Fruit:
Pork Tenderloin with Spiced Rhubarb Chutney


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