pork chops with apples and garlic mashed potatoes

Pork and I have a love/hate relationship. I love the taste of a nice pork chop, but my complete inability to cook a pork chop without drying it out through and through makes me hate cooking them. Which is a travesty, really, when you think about all of the delicious, pork-y dishes available to the average cook. My favorite being the combination of pork and apples.

I honestly don’t know where this obsession came from and, frankly, I’m not sure it’s natural. All I know is that, when I saw a new recipe for pork chops with apples featured in the “Weeknight Cooking” section of Food Network Magazine, I just knew that I had to roll up my sleeves, slap on my apron, and jump right in.

I think the major strength of this recipe is its direction to sear the pork chop on both sides, let them rest while you sauté the apples and onions, and then add them back in for the last few minutes of cooking. And, I’m ashamed to say, that I’ve tried and flubbed pork chop recipes with these very same instructions in the past. The reason? A lack of conviction.

When you sear a pork chop in a cast iron skillet, half of the work is getting the right ingredients, and the other half is remaining calm while the skillet (on high heat) sizzles and spits with terrifying fury. My advice? Steel your nerves, put on your apron (it’s a safety thing, really), and dive right in. Because the results are glorious. The pork chops stay moist, the apples add a delicious sweetness, the onions impart a tiny bite, and the accompanying garlic mashed potatoes round out this truly excellent meal.

Pork Chops with Apples and Garlic Smashed Potatoes

Courtesy of Food Network Magazine, January/February edition

1 pound small fingerling potatoes (I used small Yukon Golds instead)

2 cloves garlic

Kosher salt

4 1/2-inch-thick boneless pork loin chops (5 oz each)

2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage

Freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

3/4 cup apple cider

1/4 cup buttermilk

1. Put the potatoes and garlic in a saucepan, cover with cold water and season with salt.  Cover and bring to a boil, then uncover and continue cooking until tender, about 15 minutes.  Cover and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, rub both sides of the pork chops with the sage, and salt and pepper to taste.  Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat, then add 1 teaspoon olive oil and sear the chops until golden on both sides, about 5 minutes total.  Transfer to a plate.  Wipe out the skillet and add the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil.  Add the onion and apples and cook over medium-high heat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and stir in the cider.

3. Return the chops to the skillet.  Cover and cook, turning once, until just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes.  Drain the potatoes, reserving 1/4 cup liquid.  Return the potatoes to the pan; add the buttermilk and mash, adding cooking liquid as needed.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve with the pork chops, onion and apples.  Drizzle with the pan juices.

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