Pork chops pair well with apples

Pork Chops with Spiced Apple Puree: Holiday Recipe

By: Caitlin Fontana

Fall and winter bring festivities, and with them, some awesome holiday foods. These pork chops with spiced apple puree are quick and easy to make, and they come out incredibly juicy. After seasoning the chops, you can easily roast them in the oven or cook them in a skillet.

Serve this pork with apples recipe as a Christmas dinner dish in lieu of (or as side dishes with) ham or turkey and mashed potatoes, or serve with potatoes as a comfort food this winter. The combination of sweet and savory cannot be beat!

In addition to the chops, the apples and spices of this oven-baked dish bring flavor and a number of health benefits.

What are pork chops?

Pork chops can be quite similar to steak in the way they are cut and priced, but are more traditionally paired with sweet sides (like this apple puree) rather than savory accompaniments you'd typically enjoy with beef.

There are two types: boneless pork chops and bone-in pork chops. Boneless chops have the same pork as the bone-in pork chops, but they have the bone and excess fat removed. So, these chops are neatly trimmed and ready to cook. Compared with beef, pork is a leaner meat, with more in common with "white meats" like poultry than red.

Why do pork and applesauce go together?

Cooking your fatty meats with apples allows the sharpness of the fruit to offset the fat in the pork. The pork chops can be pan-fried, oven-baked or broiled.

Did you know that the practice of combining pork and apples dates back to ancient times? Pork chops and applesauce is a traditional dish in Spanish and British cuisines.

What kind of apples are best for your pork chops?

Different apples will give you a different texture when cooked, so the kind you choose really does matter. In this porkchop with apples recipe, we used Granny Smith apples, but any crisp apple will work. Make sure you avoid softer apple varieties because they may break up into a mushy sauce rather than providing some firm chunks for your puree.

One of the reasons we love using Granny Smiths is because of the health benefits they offer. They support heart health, promote digestive health, and are a good source of vitamins A and C. They are also full of an antioxidant compound called quercetin that supports immune system health and already-healthy blood sugar levels.

Troubleshooting: Why are my pork chops dry?

There are a few things you can do to make sure they have a delicious flavor, such as rubs and marinades. You can prevent your pork chops from drying out by marinating or brining the pork before cooking.

How to cook pork chops with spiced apple puree

Pairing something sweet with something with some fat is a winning combination, and cooking these two together is not hard at all. The first thing we like to do is brine the pork chops, which essentially means soaking it in salty flavor. Submerging chops into saltwater that is filled with flavor allows your pork to absorb those flavors and additional moisture that it will retain while it cooks. You can pretty much add anything to a brine: apples, citrus, onion, herbs and spices, etc.

Once you've had your pork chops sitting in the brine for about a day, it is time to start cooking. This recipe calls for a quick sear in a skillet on the stove and then a transfer to the oven.

When pork comes out of the oven, let it rest for a total time of at least 5-10 minutes. This helps keep in the flavors and juices when you cut it.

Pork Chops with Spiced Apple Puree

Prep Time: 1 day plus 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
Resting time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil

Pork Chop with Brine

4 pork chops
1 cup soy sauce
½ cup apple cider vinegar
4-5 cloves of garlic
2 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger
1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
Salt

Apple Puree

1 ½ pounds of Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into small wedges
⅔ cup apple cider
3 tbsp brown sugar (can opt out for a healthier puree)
1 tsp powdered ginger
Pinch of turmeric

Ingredient notes

  • Pork chops: Your pork chops should be at LEAST 1 inch to 1 ¼ inches thick.
  • Garlic: Add cloves whole or slice or crush the garlic for a heavier flavor.
  • Brown sugar: We used light brown sugar. If you only have white sugar on hand, that will work as well. You may have to reduce the amount by ½ tbsp.
  • Granny Smith: You can use any crisp apple you like, but Granny Smiths are a great option for your apple pork chops recipe.
  • Onion: This recipe does not call for onion, but some people prefer it. To add caramelized onions to these apple pork chops, slice 2-3 medium onions and add them to the skillet after you have pan-seared the pork chops. Add a tablespoon of your brine or a tablespoon of apple juice for flavor. While the pork chops are baking, cook the onions over medium heat for 10 minutes until golden-brown and caramelized. Set aside to add to the pork while it is resting.

Preparation

  • Get thick-cut pork chops, bone in or bone out. In a large bowl, toss your pork chops and the brine ingredients. Once mixed, pour into a large sealable bag to store in your fridge for a few hours or overnight.
  • Heat a cast-iron skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat and preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. When your skillet is hot, your pork chops should be pan-seared on each side for about a minute and quickly placed on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the internal temperature measured with a meat thermometer is 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • While your pork is cooking, gather your ingredients for your apple topping. Then peel, core, and roughly slice the apples into pieces.
  • Add the apple slices to a mixing bowl and sprinkle with ginger, brown sugar, turmeric and apple cider. Stir to make sure the apples are well coated.
  • Add the spiced apples to a large skillet. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat until the apple is tender. Make sure to stir frequently and scrape the skillet to loosen browned bits. If you want your puree to be more like an apple sauce, keep cooking until the apples are super soft. Then blend it in a blender for a smooth sauce.
  • When you are ready to serve and eat, pour your freshly made applesauce on top. Garnish with fresh rosemary or thyme for presentation and serve.

Nutritional Values

Recipe serves 4. Per serving:
431 calories
Total fat 14 g
Carbs 37 g
Sugars 22 g
Protein 37 g
Fiber 5 g

Tips for Success

  • Baking time: It is better to check pork chops too early vs. too late. At around 15 minutes, you should check the temperature.
  • Seasoning: Make sure to let your chops sit in a brine for at least a few hours if not overnight. This is how you get the most flavor into every bite.
  • Resting time: Do not skip this part! It helps to keep the pork tender.
  • Side dishes: Mashed or scalloped potatoes and green beans make excellent sides for pork chops.

How can pork chops with apples help support my healthy blood sugar levels?

This apples recipe supports healthy blood sugar levels through the action of antioxidant-rich apple polyphenols. These polyphenols support healthy levels of oxidative stress and already-healthy blood sugar levels, while encouraging healthy blood vessel function. Also, most of the sugar found in apples is fructose, which has a lower glycemic index than other types of sugar.

The apple puree also has a pinch of turmeric, another antioxidant that supports healthy blood sugar levels. Its key bioactive compound, curcumin, is good for brain and immune health and for its ability to help inhibit inflammation to promote joint health. Another ingredient, the ginger used in both the brine and the apple puree, also has a very low glycemic index. Ginger is famous for its role in supporting digestive comfort and function.

If you want to support your healthy blood sugar levels, supplements to fill your nutritional gaps may help. This Life Extension health quiz may be able to help.

A popular supplement to support healthy blood sugar levels is a fat-soluble form of vitamin B1, benfotiamine. This nutrient can help promote healthy glucose metabolism and support already-healthy blood glucose levels. It also helps protect against advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and oxidative stress.

About the Author: Caitlin Fontana is a graduate of the Macaulay Honors College at CUNY with a Bachelor of Science in Communications & Marketing. She is a content and social media expert with experience in social media, digital marketing, blogging, content managing & so much more! Her passion for nutrition, cooking, wellness and fitness is what inspired her to start her health & wellness blog, Caitlin's Table. https://www.caitlinstable.com

References

Scientifically Reviewed By: Holli Ryan, RD, LD/N

By: Caitlin Fontana