Juicy seared pork chops with seasonal apples and onions cooked until softened and just starting to caramelize make for a quick and easy fall dinner. Fragrant, hardy herbs, such as thyme, sage, or rosemary and a hit of cream balance out the sweet and savory nature of this dish. An economical choice, thin-cut Alaska-raised pork shoulder, aka blade, chops are often available at Butcher Block/Mat Valley Meats or look for the same cut in most grocery stores. These chops have darker meat, lots of connective tissue and some blade bone, which allows for tons of flavor. They just need a quick hot sear, but be careful to not overcook. Also note that some chops tend to be salty, so season with pepper to start; soy sauce added later will also up the sodium level. Switch out pork chops for chicken sausages, chicken thighs, meaty mushrooms, or veal chops. Serve with a simple green salad and steamed wild rice, Dijon mustard and cornichons. — Kim Sunée
Pork blade chops with caramelized apple and onion
Makes 2 to 3 servings
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pork blade/shoulder chop (16 to 20 ounces, about 1/2-inch thick)
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced (about 1/3 cup)
1 apple, cored, and sliced into 8 to 10 pieces depending on size of apple
1 to 2 sprigs thyme or rosemary
1 tablespoon avocado or grapeseed oil
1/2 cup dry sherry such as Amontillado or dry white wine or stock
1 scant teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
1/4 to 1/2 cup heavy cream or crème fraîche
Optional: Madras curry powder; sweet paprika; grated lemon zest
• Heat butter in a large heavy-bottom skillet over medium high heat. Add apple slices and sauté, stirring often for 5 minutes; adjust heat if apples are browning too quickly. Add onion and rosemary and a very small pinch salt and some pepper; cook, stirring often, another 3 to 5 minutes, lowering heat, as needed. Remove apple-onion mixture to a small bowl. Wipe out pan to remove bits of onion and apple, but no need to rinse. Add oil to pan and set pan over medium high heat.
• Pat thoroughly dry the pork chop using a paper towel; season with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper. When pan is very hot and oil is shimmering, add chop and let cook without disturbing. You want a nice sear so let it cook at least 1 to 2 minutes before checking and adjusting heat. When bottom is golden brown and seared, flip chop and cook another minute or two, depending on thickness. An instant-read thermometer should read 140 degrees Fahrenheit — the chop will continue to cook as it rests and again in the sauce later; remove chop to a plate. Add reserved apple-onion mixture back to pan set over medium heat. Add sherry and cook, stirring occasionally, 1 minute. Add soy sauce, cream or crème fraîche, and any optional spices. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more cream if sauce is too salty. Add chop back to sauce. Turn off heat and let sit 2 to 3 minutes before serving and slicing. Top with grated lemon zest, if desired, and serve with a green salad, wild rice, mustard and cornichons.