Pork Chops, Apples & Kraut

Posted on January 25, 2012

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This recipe was banging around in my head ever since I picked up the bone-in pork chops on sale at Whole Foods Saturday. I wouldn’t say I’m an all-star at pork cooking…except for bacon…which I’ve easily achieved all-star status in that arena. And what do you do when you want to “liven” up some meat that’s sort of bland on its’ own? You buy pre-packaged spice or marinade blends & smother the meat in them, right? Well, I don’t do that because they often (always) contain MSG, gluten, or some other ridunkulousness that I choose to not ingest. Thus, I needed to figure out what to do with these chops, and I was super pleasantly surprised when this whole meal turned out!

Upon eating the meal, I asked Drew if it was blog-worthy, he said ‘yes, unless you don’t like sauerkraut, then no.’ Well, if you don’t like sauerkraut, I don’t have much help here for you, other than this: it’s not as ‘kraut-y’ as you may think, please try it before you turn it down! I didn’t think I liked it either, until I started learning about what an awesome probiotic source it was (as in all things, this only applies if you buy the good stuff, not the crammed in a can garbage- good stuff usually comes in a clear jar with lots of liquid in it…or is homemade). So I was willing to try ‘kraut again, and lo & behold, I liked it!

Since ‘kraut is a fermented food, it’s teeming with good bacteria, acting as one of nature’s best probiotics! You’ll want to shake up the jar yours comes in until the liquid is cloudy – then you’ll know the good bacteria have been stirred up. The mix of green apples, celery, and onion amidst the ‘kraut softens the ‘kraut-y-ness’ of the whole dish, and it pairs SO well with the pork chop, it’s a match made in heaven!

PS – This whole thing took 20 mins from prep start time to plating. Seriously, I don’t do long, involved dinners. Here’s the recipe, so get cooking!

Pork Chops with Apple Kraut

You’ll Need:

1 bone-in pork chop per person, or boneless, whatever’s on sale is fine
1/2 an onion, 2 stalks celery, & 1/2 a green apple per 2 people
1/4 – 1/2 cup sauerkraut per person
fresh flat-leaf parsley (it adds a lot of brightness to the dish, but skip it if you can’t be bothered)
butter (or ghee/clarified butter if you’re dairy-free)
bacon grease (so long as it’s nitrate/nitrite free & from a good source of bacon), or olive oil if bacon grease freaks you out, but I’m telling you, bacon grease is no problem for your health, especially when compared to the problems with industrial seed oils like canola/safflower/sunflower/other seed oils.
spice blend: paprika, red pepper, dried oregano, dried onion, dried thyme (or whatever combo you like that mimics this combination to some degree)
ground black pepper, salt

What To Do:

Preheat oven to 350. Also warm a pan to medium heat. Make a spice mixture; this one is loosely based on Emeril’s “Essence” blend. It doesn’t have to be measured, just add what you like in the amounts that you like it. I do these spices in their own bowl so they incorporate, then shake them over the meat….paprika, red pepper, dried thyme, dried oregano, & dried onion.

Season pork chops with your spice blend along with ground black pepper & a dash of salt. Press seasonings down into pork so they stick once in the pan. To your warmed pan, add 1 Tbsp of olive oil or bacon grease- you could also use butter (or ghee if you’re dairy-free). When the oil is warm & sizzles a bit if you sprinkle a drop of water in it, add the chops to the pan, giving them room to breathe.

Cook for 3 mins each side, just enough to get them browned on each side. Once both sides are browned, move the whole pan to the oven to finish cooking, approx 10-12mins based on thickness of chop. Take a 2nd large pan & heat it over medium-low. Add 1/2 Tbsp butter (I used ghee/clarified butter). While the butter/ghee warms & melts, begin chopping 1/2 an onion, 2 stalks of celery, & 1/2 green apple (quantity is per 2 people). Also do a rough chop of your parsley – you want very small pieces – just keep piling it up & running your knife through it. I really hope you’ll buy the parsley to add to this meal as it, like any fresh herb, brightens up the flavor – but if you forgot to buy it, or would prefer to go without, no worries!

Once the pan is warm enough to allow the butter/ghee to coat the bottom of the pan, add onion, celery & apple to pan, & toss to coat. Allow to cook for 3 mins to soften everything, stirring regularly to ensure there’s no excessive browning of any ingredient. Once everything looks to be softened up, and onions are translucent, turn heat to low & add sauerkraut. We don’t want to cook the kraut, just gently warm it, so that we do not lose all of the beneficial properties of the kraut, so it should only be in the warm pan for a short time.

Stir all ingredients in the pan to break up the kraut & incorporate everything. At the very end, sprinkle your chopped parsley over the kraut mixture, start with 2 Tbsp (a small pile on your cutting board) & stir to incorporate. Add more if you prefer. Your chops should be finishing, remove a chop & do a test cut to see if the juices are clear. The new rules with cooked pork is that it is fine to have a slight pink tone to the meat, but you still want your juices running clear. If you’ve got clear juice and pinkish/white-ish flesh, remove the remaining chops from the oven & allow to rest for a few minutes while you plate your kraut mixture. Plate your chops & you’re ready to eat!

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