These words conjure up a few sounds and images in my head. First, I hear Peter Brady speaking in a bad Humphrey Bogart accent from an episode of my favorite after school show. Then, I picture an overcooked, shriveled up piece of pork served next to a bowl of Mott’s applesauce…pork chips. That is what I called them in my household growing up, and I refused to eat them. I did scarf down the sugary applesauce though.

Why was the pork always so overcooked you might ask? Fear of trichinosis I suppose. Cook that meat to death and you won’t get sick…you will also feel like you’re eating leather, but I guess tanned animal hide was better than nausea. Sometime in the last 30 years though, that fear of undercooked swine has thankfully gone the way of the dodo bird. People have learned that while you don’t want to serve pork raw, cooking it to an internal temperature of 145º F will sufficiently kill off trichinosis (which dies at 138 º F) and will leave your meat slightly pink and wonderfully juicy. Bye, bye pork chips.

My mom subscribed to Bon Appétit magazine for years. There were several recipes that she kept going back to the magazine cupboard in search of. One was their 1994 Pork with Apples, Calvados and Apple Cider. When I moved out on my own and I was not sure what to make for dinner, I would call her up and ask for suggestions. When she suggested I make the pork, I hesitated. First of all, the local liquor store did not carry Calvados. Second, I could only find apple cider in giant bottles. Third, the recipe calls for pork tenderloin. How was I going to eat an entire pork tenderloin? All of a sudden, this recipe seemed like a complete pain for a single chef. Thankfully, I persevered and found ways around my ingredient difficulties.

Ingredient Notes:

The recipe calls for Golden Delicious apples. I tend to use whatever apples I have on hand at home. If you want to substitute another apple variety, go for it. Just remember that Golden Delicious tend to be sweet. If you use a more tart variety, you may want to add a touch more sugar to the recipe. Some apples hold their shape better than others, but as you are the only one seeing it, who cares if they get mushy…it’ll seem more like good old Mott’s Applesauce!

This weekend for my recipe testing I invited a few old roommates over for dinner and prepared this recipe four ways to see if cider or brandy were needed or if apple juice would suffice. The verdict…the best recipe was made with brandy and apple juice. For those of you who imbibe from time to time, it is worth picking up a bottle for your liquor cabinet. In the winter, two of my favorite warm-me-up drinks are Brandy Hot Toddies (brandy, hot water, lemon and honey) and the Skier’s Edge (coffee, brandy and Irish cream). If you come across Calvados and enjoy sipping apple brandy, I hear that it is worth the purchase. If you don’t drink, you can pick up an airplane size bottle at the liquor store or skip it entirely.

Single Chef Tips

Extra heavy whipping cream and apple juice can be frozen in ice cube trays for use in other dishes or drink the apple juice and add the cream to your coffee for a special treat.

served with roasted beets and carrots and yummy mashed potatoes

served with roasted beets and carrots and yummy mashed potatoes

Pork Chops and Apples in a Cream Sauce

(adapted from Bon Appétit)

Serve with mashed potatoes and either roasted veggies or sautéed greens

1 boneless pork chop

1 ¼ Tbs butter, divided

1 Large Golden Delicious Apple

¼ tsp sugar

1 Tbs minced shallot (1 medium)

1 tsp fresh thyme or ¼ tsp dried thyme

1 Tbs brandy

¼ c heavy whipping cream

1 Tbs apple juice

Salt and Pepper to taste

  • Put pork chop in-between plastic wrap and pound to ¼” thickness
  • Add ½ Tbs of butter to a hot, small skillet (8” preferably), add apples and sugar. Sauté until golden brown, 6-10 minutes depending on the pan
  • Remove apples from pan, return pan to heat and add ½ Tbs butter. Place pork chop in pan and cook 2 minutes on each side. Remove pork from pan and cover with foil to keep warm
  • Return pan to heat, add ¼ Tbs butter, shallots and thyme. Sauté for 2 minutes
  • At this point the pan might seem “burnt” with bits of apple and pork. This is ok. If the shallots seem to brown too quickly, remove the pan from the heat
  • Add brandy and scrape up apple and pork bits in the pan. Cook at medium heat for 1-2 minutes while brandy reduces to a syrupy consistency. (If not using brandy, skip this step and scrape up bits in next step)
  • Add cream and apple juice and simmer until sauce appears to thicken, about 3 minutes
  • Season sauce with salt and pepper and add apples back to sauce. Toss to coat
  • Pour apples and sauce over pork
Recipe testing with friends

Recipe testing with friends