Is it too cliché to mention that old adage that necessity is the mother of invention?
Maybe it should be added that necessity is good, but extreme cold and laziness is a better motivator!
This was where I found myself the other chilly night, looking at the contents of my fridge and pantry and wondering what I could make for dinner without having to go out and get anything else. Pork chops and apples was what came naturally to mind as I had a pair of juicy pork chops from the CSA, and some shrivelly apples. The apples were a little past being able to be enjoyed raw, but they were still perfectly good to cook.
And then I looked up at my nice collection of booze, and thought, “Not just any apples tonight, but flambéed apples!”
Okay, I’m not being 100% truthful. My actual thought was, “Fire! Fire! Fire!”
In any case, the results were fast, easy, delicious, and perfect for an early winter supper.
2 thick-cut boneless pork chops
2 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into small pieces
1 shallot, finely minced
1/4 cup of apple cider
1 branch of fresh thyme
1/4 cup of brandy
Salt and pepper
How to prepare:
1. Heat some olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the pork chops. Sear the pork chops for about 3-4 minutes. They should have a nice golden crust when you flip them. Lower the heat to medium after you turn the pork chops. Continue to cook them until they are done (you’re looking for a nice rosy pink). A meat thermometer inserted in the center of each chop should register between 140-145°. Remove the chops to a plate while you finish the dish.
2. Spoon off most of the fat in the pan, leaving only about two teaspoons. Set the pan back on stove over medium-high heat. Add the apples and shallots. Toss them together in the pan, being sure to scrape up any tasty brown bits stuck to the bottom of it. Cook them until the shallots gain a little color and begin to turn translucent.
3. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the apple cider and the thyme to the pan. Cook the apples and the shallots in the apple cider until the sauce has thickened.
4. Take the pan away from its heat source, and carefully pour the brandy over the apples. Return the pan to the heat. Let the brandy warm for a just a few seconds before igniting it with a match. Stand back and let the alcohol burn off completely. To help you visualize this, here is a nice Youtube clip from the Food Network (the flambé-ing occurs around the 2:55 mark).
5. Add any juices that have accumulated in the plate where the pork chops are resting to the pan. Continue to cook the apples until the liquid has some reduced more. Remove the thyme branch, and adjust the seasoning. Set the pork chops on top of a good mound of apples and serve.