Simple Spiced Cider Pork Chops
Looking at my recipe list, I realized I have not written up a basic everyday dinner recipe in quite a while. Now, there are reasons – in summer, I tend to concentrate on the wide variety of CSA produce, and I wrote the whole discussion of Planning For Meals.
But still – sometimes there you are, standing at the kitchen counter staring at pork chops and wondering what to do with them. Or, worse, at the meat counter wondering what’s quick and easy besides burgers (again!)
One of my fallbacks is pork chops. I prefer the brown and braise approach to cooking them – brown them lightly on each side, then simmer in some flavorful liquid. The chops are tender, and you can vary liquid and seasoning to make a different meal every time. And it is still pretty fast.
You may notice that I use fruit fairly often with pork. I find it an excellent combination (and certainly a traditional one.) I gave you an apple recipe before, but this is even easier – apple cider. It’s October in New York – of course I have apple cider in the house! I buy it from the farmers at Greenmarket, but if that’s not an option, see if you can get it fresh in your supermarket. And if not, the shelf stable bottled is still certainly an option… (In fact, I’ve had some bottled spiced cider that was rather good.)
You can, of course, use just the cider, but I added a couple of the spices I would used to make mulled cider – cinnamon and cloves – and they lifted the recipe to a new realm (without any extra fuss, really.)
I used two boneless loin chops, but this recipe will work just as well with bone-in chops. Pork chops come in many different sizes and thicknesses, so, while I gave the time for these, be prepared to vary it if yours are particularly thick or thin.
Take a good fry pan and heat it, then add just a touch of oil. (If you have a good non-stick pan, you can skip the oil – it’s not needed here the way it is if you, say, saute onions.) Place your chops in the hot pan and let cook 2-3 minutes until brown on that side, then turn.
Give the second side another 2 minutes – still on high heat – then lower the heat. Add half a cup of apple cider, half a teaspoon of cinnamon, and two cloves. The cider may have started to boil as soon as it hit the hot pan – if not, bring it to a low simmer, and adjust the heat until the cider just keeps a very low simmer. Then cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes.
Remove the cover, turn the chops over, and cook another 10 minutes, without the cover. Keep an eye on the cider – you want it to cook down a little, so that it is a bit syrupy, but does not evaporate completely, and the time will depend on your own stove and pan. If the pan starts to go dry, add a splash more.
And that’s it. Serve the chops with the cider poured over them. Or, I mashed sweet potatoes as a side, and poured the cider over them like gravy – that was wonderful! You probably want to remove the cloves first (especially if you are serving small children.)
An option for this, if time or energy are particularly tight at dinner time in your house… If you read my post about pre-cooking ingredients for Rich’s parents, you may have noticed that I prepped pork chops for them – browning and par-boiling them. Then I froze the chops, so they could be reheated and finished in flavorful liquid. Time isn’t an issue for them, but energy is – this lets them make a recipe like this without having to stand over the stove to brown the chops. It’s a time saver, too, though…
Freeze the browned and par-boiled chops in zip bags with enough for a meal for your family in each bag. Ideally, take a bag out of the freezer and put it in the fridge to thaw the night before… Then pop the thawed chops into a pan with cider and spices, bring it to a simmer, simmer ten minutes, and you’re good to go. The meat will not have absorbed as much of the flavor from the spiced cider as it would if you cooked it that way entirely, but you will get some, and there are nights when getting a meal on the table fifteen minutes sooner is worth a lot.
So, anyhow – even the basic recipe is only about half an hour, which was always fast enough for me (but I never had to feed hungry children.) It’s good, though, to remember that there are options. And spiced cider pork chops sound very elegant on a weeknight – but this recipe is very quick and easy.
Simple Spiced Cider Pork Chops
- 2 pork chops
- oil for pan
- 1/2 c apple cider
- 1/2 t ground cinnamon
- 2 cloves
- Trim fat off pork chops, if needed.
- Heat oil in pan. Brown chops in pan over high heat, 2-3 minutes per side.
- Lower heat, and add cider and spices.
- Bring cider to a slow simmer, cover the pan, and simmer 15 minutes.
- Remove cover, and cook another 10 minutes or until pork is done, and pan liquid is somewhat reduced. (Don't let it dry out.)
- Pour pan liquid over chops as sauce.