Pork Chops With Apples And Cider

There are some culinary combinations that cannot be improved upon, and apples and pork is surely one of them. This recipe calls for pan-frying boneless pork chops and serving them with butter-browned apples and a Normandy-style sauce made with cider and cream. It makes for a perfect cold-weather meal.

Serve with Tieton Dry, Sparkling Perry or Yakima Valley Dry Hopped Cider

Yields: 4 to 6 servings

For the Spiced Salt

¼teaspoon black peppercorns

3cloves

4 allspice berries

2 tablespoons roughly chopped sage

1 and 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

For the Pork and Sauce

6 boneless pork chops, 4 ounces each, about 1/2-inch thick

2 large apples

2 tablespoons butter

All-purpose flour, for dusting

½cup hard cider, plus 2 tablespoons

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 and 1/2 cups chicken broth

2 teaspoons potato starch dissolved in 2 tablespoons cold water

3 tablespoons crème fraîche

1 tablespoon Calvados, apple brandy or Cognac, optional

2 tablespoons finely cut chives

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Make the spice salt: Put peppercorns, cloves, allspice and sage in a spice mill or mortar and grind to a powder. Remove to a bowl and stir in salt. Season pork chops on both sides with salt mixture. (There will be some salt mixture remaining; use it to season the sauce, Step 4.) Cover and leave chops at room temperature to absorb seasonings for at least 30 minutes.

Peel, quarter and core apples, then cut each apple into 12 wedges. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a wide skillet and raise heat to medium-high. Add apple wedges in one layer and brown gently on one side, about 2 minutes. Brown on the other side and cook for 2 minutes more, or until apples are cooked through but still firm. Remove apples from pan and keep warm.

Add 1 tablespoon butter to pan and swirl to melt. Dust pork chops with flour, and place in pan and brown gently for about 4 minutes per side. Adjust heat if necessary to keep pork from cooking too quickly. Remove chops and keep warm on a platter in a low oven. Discard remaining butter.

Add ½ cup cider to pan, raise heat to high and cook down to a syrup. Add mustard and chicken broth, and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Add potato starch and stir with a wire whisk as the sauce thickens. Stir in crème fraîche. Season to taste with remaining spiced salt. Add 2 tablespoons cider and the Calvados, if using. Cook for 1 minute more.

Spoon sauce over the chops, then spoon the apples around the platter. Sprinkle with chives and parsley.

Interested in more recipes? Be sure to check out the recipes suggested by the Carolina Cider Company.

 

Best pizza toppings from the Mediterranean

We just got back from traveling in the South of France, and as you’d expect, the food was fantastic. One of the most enjoyable parts of our trip was visiting the fantastic food markets. Each town has its own market day, and some have a market every day but Sunday. The Saturday market in the town of Arles is one of the best in the area. And there’s a permanent market in Antibes that’s open every day but Sunday.

The restaurants here serve lots of fresh seafood and other ingredients that you find in the market — vegetables, herbs, and olives. Because the South of France is so close to Italy, there’s also lots of pasta, dishes with tomatoes, and pizza.

There’s a pizza restaurant in just about every small town, and many of them having wood-burning ovens. They don’t make traditional Neapolitan pizza here — the crust is thicker and there are more pizza toppings. But they do create a delicious pie.

We were a little surprised by the pizza toppings, which don’t vary a lot. Nowhere did we see pepperoni, Italian sausage, or the usual pizza meats. Here, as in Spain, it’s all about the ham. Jambon cru, which is like prosciutto, is the most popular choice. Some places, you’ll see specific types of ham, such as Serrano or Iberico ham from Spain.

Seafood, especially anchovies, are also popular toppings. But you’ll also see tuna and calamari.

Most places offer both white and red pizzas. White is sauced with crème Fraiche, which is absolutely delicious. The white pizzas are best with vegetables like caramelized onion and mushroom.

The French are known for their fabulous cheeses, and here’s where they make their mark. Unlike in American and Italy, mozzarella isn’t the star of the show when it comes to pizza cheeses. Emmental, which is similar to Swiss cheese, and is made in Switzerland, is very popular. Chevre, or goat cheese, is also used a lot, and it’s frequently combined with arugula.

Gruyere, Fontina, Reblochon, Comte, and Roquefort all makes delicious pizzas.

Many of the pizzas we had has a black olive in the center, and virtually all of them had a drizzle of excellent local olive oil. This really brought all the flavors together and improved the overall taste. A carafe of olive oil with chili peppers is served with your pizza. It’s pretty spicy and adds a nice zing.

We found an artisanal olive oil at our local farmers market and we’ve started drizzling it over our pizzas. It wasn’t inexpensive, but it was well worth the money.

The best pizza we had in the South of France was at La Cantina in Saint-Remy-en-Provence. The town itself is quite charming, one of the cutest in the region. And the restaurant was surprisingly quite modern. But the pizzas there were some of the best we’ve ever has, anywhere.

If you’re around Boyne City or Howards City, be sure to check out BC Pizza for delicious pizza and pastries.