Sunday, December 16, 2012

Dinner Tonight: Pork Chops and Apples

Finished Product!
Today my husband woke up feeling a little under the weather. He felt better after a day of rest, and I decided to make some of his favorite foods for dinner: pork chops and cooked apples.

(I can't help but think of The Brady Bunch and "pork chops and applesauce.")

About three hours before I cooked dinner, I decided to brine the bone-in pork chops. I combined about 1/4 cup each of salt and brown sugar with about a cup of boiling water. I stirred until the salt and sugar were dissolved.

I added 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, 6-8 whole black peppercorns, 1/2 teaspoon of whole mustard seeds, a teaspoon of whole coriander, and a bay leaf. Then I added ice cubes and stirred them in until the mixture was cooled.

I put the pork chops and brine mixture into a gallon zip-top bag and put it back in the refrigerator to soak up some flavor.

About 30 minutes before I was ready to cook, I took the chops out of the refrigerator to come closer to room temperature.

Meanwhile, I peeled and chopped two apples. (I think they were Galas).  They were crisp and sweet. (Please ignore that one is upside down in the picture.)

I also had some Granny Smith apples, but I would have had to add a lot more sugar to sweeten them, so I stuck with these. I chopped them into pieces about 1/2 - 1 inch each.

Next I chopped one sweet onion. I chopped half of it into larger pieces to add to the pan with the pork chops and apples.

The other half, I chopped a little smaller. I also chopped 3 small zucchini into bite-size pieces for a zucchini-onion saute.

For some reason, I do not seem to be able to cook zucchini for two. Note to self: we only need 2 small zucchini and 1/4 of an onion for our dinner if we don't want leftovers.

I put olive oil in the bottom of two nonstick pans, one large and one small. It doesn't take much, maybe a couple of teaspoons.

I turned the large skillet to medium-high heat. While it got hot, I took the pork chops out of the brine and patted them dry. I salted and peppered each side.

When the oil was hot, I added the chops to the pan to brown, about 3-4 minutes per side.

Once they were browned, I added the apples and the onion I had set aside for this dish. I added a tablespoon of brown sugar on top of the apples and onion, along with 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and 1/4 cup of water.

I turned the heat down to medium and covered the pan.

Next, I turned the smaller pan onto medium heat.

When the oil was hot, I added the zucchini and the rest of the onion, plus salt and pepper to taste.

Incidentally, I used this cool little tool to make that job easier.  I love this thing! It's called a bench scrape. I think it was designed to use with pastry, but I use it all the time to get chopped ingredients into pans without spilling them all over the place. (It's the little things in life!)
I covered the pan so the veggies would soften the way we like them. If I hadn't covered them, I would have added a little water so they could cook without sticking or burning.

I let both the chops and the zucchini cook about 15 minutes, until both were done. (I used an instant-read thermometer to make sure they were at least 165 degrees.

I used the cook time to empty the dishwasher and fold laundry. Does anyone else hate emptying the dishwasher as much as I do? My next least favorite chore is folding laundry.

Oh well, by the time I was finished, we had a nice dinner ready!

(When I plated my dinner, I realized that next time I will slice the apples rather than chopping them, so they won't be the same size and shape as the zucchini.)

Dinner was tasty!  Now on to ironing....

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