A crisp Fall day and a fresh jug of apple cider were the inspiration for this recipe. I’m pretty sure the pork chops were on sale too. There’s a quintessential dish, at least according to The Brady Bunch, of pork chops and apple sauce. The two go well enough together. But what about apple cider? Was there a way I could turn apple cider into a pork chop pairing? Yes there was and now I’m sharing it with all of you.
There’s enough sugar in apple cider to turn it into a glaze. A glaze is a reduced sauce that becomes thick and glossy and often caramelizes during cooking. By grilling the pork chops on the Grill Pan, the meat would have great grill marks and that caramelized flavor already; the apple cider would just enhance that and add the apple flavor. So, start by grilling the pork chops. Once they are marked on one side and the edges are turning white, turn the chops over to grill the other side. Remove from the pan.
Pears are in season in the Fall also. Not as popular as apples and having fewer varieties, they are sometimes forgotten but their mild sweetness and softer texture go well with pork. Core the pears and slice into thick slices (at least as thick as the pork chops but about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch). Grill the pears in the same pan, turning after the slices are seared with grill marks. Remove from pan.
Now comes the apple cider. Pour at least 1 cup of apple cider into the pan and return the pork chops with the cider and any juices from your platter. Add the sprigs of rosemary. Allow to cook on medium high. Boil the cider until it reduces to a thick syrup. You may have to add additional cider if it boils off before the pork chops are cooked through. Turn the pork chops at least once to coat with the glaze as the cider reduces.
Once the pork is glazed and cooked to temperature (check with an instant read thermometer) remove the pork to a clean serving platter. Repeat process with the rosemary still in the pan and another cup of apple cider to glaze the pears as well. Add cider if necessary to glaze pears.
If you have a kitchen helper, they can get to work on the potatoes while you are cooking the pork chops and pears. No helper? Start the potatoes in a pot to boil first and mash after meat and fruit are removed to the platter (keep platter warm in a low oven). Scrub the potatoes very well. Cut potatoes into large dice, cover with cold water, salt liberally and add 3 cloves smashed and peeled garlic. Boil until fork tender, drain. Mash the potatoes and the garlic with a potato masher adding butter and milk to the taste and texture that you prefer. I serve these potatoes in a very rustic manner with the peels intact and mixed in with the mash. Salt to taste. Want to take your mash to another whole level? Use goat cheese or cream cheese instead of butter. You can thank me later.
If you love rosemary and want the components of this meal to have a common flavor, you can add a tablespoon of finely minced rosemary leaves to the mashed potatoes.
Our next ingredient, the asparagus, is out of season here. Asparagus is a Spring vegetable. There just happened to be pencil thin asparagus available in the grocery store when I found the pears and pork chops so they came home with me too. They are an excellent green vegetable side with this dish. Rinse the asparagus to clean it and break off the tough stem ends where the stalk naturally snaps. Place on a metal sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat and roast under the broiler for approximately 8-10 minutes or until the stalks just begin to brown. The amount of time will vary based on how thick your asparagus are. Sprinkle with Kosher salt for serving.
That’s it. A quick, beautiful meal suitable for company (unless you don’t want to share the deliciousness). I drizzled the remaining glaze from the pan over the potatoes for serving. Serve with apple cider and Enjoy!