Juicy pork chops get a big boost of flavor from fresh rosemary, sweet apples and hearty potatoes in this delicious autumnal dish.
Technique tip: Brining seasons your meat from the inside out. It lends flavor and juiciness and is an insurance policy if you're still getting the feel for salt and pepper and/or are nervous about cooking lean cuts of meat without drying them out. It might seem like more work to prepare a brine and soak your meat (for at least 24 and up to 36 hours) in advance of cooking, but it pays dividends in the pan and on the plate.
Basic brine (makes 4 cups, or enough for about 5 pounds of meat)
- 1/3 cup kosher salt
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup juniper berries
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 4 bay leaves
- 4 sprigs rosemary
- Basic brine (recipe above)
- 4 bone-in pork chops, about 1½ inches thick
- 1 pound baby potatoes
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
- 2 sprigs rosemary, needles finely chopped
- 2 large shallots, sliced lengthwise
- 2 crisp apples, peeled, quartered and cored
- 1/4 cup calvados or other good apple brandy
For the basic brine:
Combine 4 cups water, the salt, sugar, juniper berries, peppercorns, bay leaves and rosemary sprigs in a pot and bring to a boil. Stir until the salt and sugar dissolve, then remove from the heat and let cool completely before using. It will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
For the pork chops:
1. Submerge the pork chops in the cooled brine, cover and refrigerate for at least 24 and up to 36 hours.
2. When you're ready to cook the chops, preheat the oven to 425°F.
3. Put the potatoes in a medium pot and add just enough cold water to cover. Season with salt and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer the potatoes until just fork-tender, 15-20 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat, combine 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 2 tablespoons of the butter and chopped rosemary. Once the butter has melted, add the shallots and cook until softened, 8-10 minutes. Add the apples and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the Calvados, stir, and cook for another minute. Reduce the heat to low, add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and cook until the apples are just tender, about 5 more minutes. Drain the potatoes and toss with the apple mixture.
5. Heat 2 large ovenproof skillets, preferably cast iron (or work in batches in one pan), over high heat with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in each. Remove the pork chops from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. When the oil shimmers, carefully add the chops to the pans and sear until golden, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook for another 2 minutes.
6. Transfer the pans to the oven and roast until the pork is cooked to your liking (medium doneness will register as 140°F-145°F on a meat thermometer). Depending on how thick your chops are, this could take 5-10 minutes. Allow the chops to rest on a warm plate for 5 minutes before serving.
7. Serve the pork chops with the warm potatoes and apples.
Reprinted from "The Lost Kitchen." Copyright © 2017 by Erin French. Photographs copyright © 2017 by Nicole Franzen. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.