Baked Pork Chops with Apples, Rosemary
Homer: Are you saying you’re never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon?
Homer: Pork chops?
Lisa: Dad, those all come from the same animal!
Homer: Heh heh heh… ooh… yeah… right, Lisa. A wonderful… magical animal.
I can’t believe I have anything in common with Homer Simpson, but he loves pork chops and so do I. Once, I got in a little trouble with my Aunt Linda over pork chops. I stayed with her and her little girl for a week one summer and every night we would go to a little restaurant to eat. Her little girl would order a burger from the kiddie menu, but at 9 years old, I was already a foodie, and kiddie menus didn’t interest me.
One night I ordered pork chops and my aunt scolded me for spending too much money. I felt horrified and shamed because my family ate out in restaurants frequently, and I had never been sanctioned for ordering a more grown up meal. But, then is it normal for a nine year old girl to order pork chops? Homer Simpson would say it was. Needless to say, it didn’t scar me for life. I still love my pork chops.
I’m not sure of Homer Simpson’s preferences, but I only like the center-cut chops, which have a T bone, similar to a T bone steak. There is usually enough fat and bone in a center-cut, which adds up to flavor. Pork tenderloin (the all white meat with no bone) is too often tasteless and boring and requires a lot of doctoring up to call it comfort food.
Pork chops can have issues too. The problem most cooks get into with pork chops is tenderness. The meat other side of that bone can have a lot of connective tissue which can make a chop tough and chewy.
Retro Rose, queen of the comfort food, taught me to bake my chops for two hours at a low temperature under cover most of the time to ensure tenderness. The flavor is boosted by slices of apples and onions that bake into a caramelized treasure. Herbs such as rosemary, sage, thyme or oregano marry into this family of flavors perfectly.
I’ve discovered a better way to make these. Brine them. Twenty minutes in a solution of water, salt and sugar (no more than that) and bake low and slow.
Be sure to add in some colorful side dishes and make extra apples and onions to serve with the chops. Naturally, I baked these in a cast iron skillet. I served the pork chops with apples and then served this apple pie for dessert. Redundant? A food faux pas? What do you think? Do you repeat ingredients in subsequent dishes?
I also made a wonderful mustard oven fried pork chop here that you will also love.
And, as long as you’re into comfort food, why not make these AMAZING biscuits to go along. (My most popular all time post for a reason).
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Baked Pork Chops with Rosemary, Apples and Caramelized Onions
- 4 center-cut pork chops one inch thick
- Brine ingredients see below
- sea salt
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large apples sliced cross wise with skin on
- 2 large onion sliced cross wise with skin on
- 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary off stem, chopped finely
- 3 cups water
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons salt
- Liberally salt pork chops. Wrap in plastic, refrigerate for several hours.
- One hour before baking, take chops out, brush salt off, and brine in water, sugar, salt mixture for 30 minutes. Pat Dry.
- Mix with mixture of olive oil and balsamic vinegar
- Add dash of rosemary, salt and pepper
- Arrange cast iron skillet or baking dish with sliced onion, apple, pork chops, topped again with sliced onion and apple.
- Take remaining apple and onion and place around the chops.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
- Bake in roasting pan with loose tin foil cover for 30 minutes. Turn over and bake for another 20 minutes.
- Remove foil and apple over pork chops.turn up the heat to 400 degrees, and bake for 10- 20 minutes to brown. Add remaining rosemary. Chops are done when fat is browned.
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