Pork Chops with Apples and Cream

INGREDIENTS:

4 pork loin chops cut thick, about 4-6 ounces each
1/2 pound of apples, such as Granny Smith, Cameo, or Golden Delicious (1 Large or 2 medium), cut into ¼ inch thick slices
1 medium shallot, minced
1 ounce high quality apple brandy such as Osocalis*, or a French Calvados (Cognac or brandy may be used as well)
4 ounces apple cider or juice
1/2 teaspoon fresh minced rosemary
6-8 oz heavy whipping cream**
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Butter or neutral flavored oil as needed

METHOD:

Heat the oven to 325°F.

Heat a sauté pan over medium high heat.

Season the chops with salt and pepper. Add butter and/or oil to the pan, and when hot, add the chops and brown both sides. Transfer chops to an oven-proof dish and put in the oven. (The chops should be finished cooking in 8-10 minutes, hopefully by the time the sauce is done. Remember the chops are in the oven while making the sauce.)

If the pan is dry, add a little butter and then add the apples. Sauté to brown the apples slightly and soften a little. Transfer to a bowl. Add the shallots to the sauté pan, adding a bit more butter if needed. Cook until shallots turn translucent, then add the rosemary. Give a quick stir.

Carefully add the apple brandy (if you have an open flame under the pan, be careful that the spirits don’t ignite accidentally. Or, you could ignite them on purpose, as I would, by waiting for the spirits to heat in the pan, then lifting the pan handle to expose the side away from you to the heat. The vapors coming off the pan should ignite. Swirl the pan to burn off the alcohol uniformly. This adds an added dimension to the flavors of the dish, and is known as “flambé.” Avoid pouring directly from the bottle into the pan as the stream of liquor could ignite.) Reduce the brandy in the pan by 80%, or so there is barely anything left in the pan.

Add the apple cider, and reduce this by 80%.

Add 6 ounces of cream, reserving the rest. Bring mixture to a boil, and reduce the heat so the sauce simmers and reduces. Reduce the sauce until it is thick enough that your finger will leave a trail in it on the back of spoon. Pour the juices from the pork chops into the sauce and stir to incorporate. Taste for seasoning.

Add the apples to the sauce to heat up. If the sauce has thinned from these additions, turn up the heat and reduce a little more. If the sauce seems too thick, add a bit of the leftover cream.

Plate the chops, then spoon sauce over the chops and serve.

YIELD: 4 servings

CHEF NOTES: I like this dish with Belgian endives and kasha (buckwheat groats). The pork dish and the buckwheat are things you would find in Normandy, another area well known for apple production.

*Osocalis is a distillery in Soquel, CA using French techniques and an old cognac still to produce a Norman style apple brandy using local apples. The also produce grape based brandies using local grapes. Contact them for more information.

**Heavy whipping cream is what is needed to reduce for the sauce. The other types of cream may not work, and then you wind up with a soupy sauce. And if you are worried about cholesterol, remember that this dish serves four, so that is only about one and a half ounces of cream each before reduction.

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