Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pastured Pork Chop with Spiced Pecan Apples

A few simple ingredients 
If you've stopped eating pork chops because you think they're too dry and flavorless, you probably have two issues: Overcooking, and factory farmed meat. Both are easily correctable.  The USDA has lowered the temperature for cooking pork to 145 degrees (vs. the previous 160 degrees), which cooks it to a a juicy, tender, lightly pink, medium rare.  (And despite what my mom says, you are not going to get trichinosis) This is when your Thermopen really comes in handy. You can get pasture raised pork at your nearest farmers market. Mine came from my CSA farm, Brunty Farms.

Take your pork out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before dinner and let it rest and lose it's chill a bit while you prep the rest of your dinner.  Super cold meat plus super hot pan equals cooked on the outside, but not the inside. Pat the chops dry and rub with some Penzeys Bicentennial Rub on each side. (rub has salt, sugar, black pepper, orange peel, turmeric, and coriander)

Core and chop your apple while a couple of teaspoons of butter melts in a skillet.  Add the apples and sauté until they soften and turn a nice golden brown.  Add a splash of apple cider if you have some, and drizzle with a spoonful of Pecan Praline vinegar. There is a commercial brand available at large supermarkets, but I got mine at The Olive and The Grape at West Side Market.  It's an infused, thick, slightly sweet balsamic with a spiced pecan flavor.

Remove the apples to a bowl, then wipe out your skillet with a dampened paper towel.  I did not do that you can see that my fond got a little too dark to be usable for a finishing sauce.  This is a stainless pan, which I prefer to a non-stick when searing meat. Never fear, the pan is as clean and shiny as new - I added a bit of water and scraped most of it out while it was warm, and finished cleaning it with a bit of Bar Keepers Friend.

Brown the chops in a bit of butter and bit of olive oil.  These chops weren't that thick and probably only took about 5 minutes a side.  If my fond had been usable, I would have deglazed the pan with some cider and scraped the brown bits from the pan with a wooden spoon.  Maybe added a bit of butter and a little more of the pecan vinegar.

I garnished the chop with some chopped Sweet and Spicy Pecan from Trader Joes. You could use this recipe if you don't have a TJ's nearby.

Pastured Pork Chop with Spiced Pecan Apples 
Serves 2, can be easily doubled

1 - 2 teaspoons Penzeys Bicentennial Rub
2 pasture raised, bone-in pork chops2 teaspoons butter
1 tart apple, such as Granny Smith, diced
1/4 c. apple cider
1 teaspoon Spiced Pecan Balsamic Vinegar
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup of Sweet and Spicy Pecans, roughly chopped

Pat chops dry and rub with Bicentennial Rub. Let rest at room temperature at least 30 minutes.

Melt butter in large skillet, then add chopped apples and sauté until softened and golden brown. Add cider and reduce until glazed, then add vinegar and toss to coat.

Wipe skillet with damp paper towel.  Add butter and olive oil and heat to medium high. Add chops and cook approximately 5 minutes on each side for thinner chops, until center temp, not touching bone reaches 140 degrees (will come up to 145 while resting).

Serve pork chop atop apples and garnish with chopped pecans.

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