Mixed Greens Blog

Mixed Greens Blog
Living Sustainably in the Pacific Northwest

06
February
2009

Pork Chops Partner with Apple Preserves

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Storage apples, not the prettiest fruit but something to hold us over until spring. My brother dropped off a bag of apples, mostly Melrose, on his way out-of-town. My attempt at storing the first bag I’d been given failed. I’m not surprised since all I did was put the paper bag full of apples in the basement. Not exactly the best effort on my part. Then I learned that this bag had been sitting on his deck, only somewhat protected. Somehow they made it through the snow and cold in December. Sure, they’re a little beat-up but still taste sweet and crunchy.

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I made the most silky, luscious concoction from these apples using one of the hottest items in the cocktail world, agave nectar, for the sweetner. Although agave nectar isn’t locally grown, Woodring Northwest sells it along with all their pickles, preserves and toppings at the University Farmers Market. Agave nectar is an interesting alternative to sugar. I topped everything off with my latest fav, Greek Gods Yogurt , made right here in Seattle.

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Now, how about some perfect pork chops to go with your apple  preserves? No simple feat but in theory, a very easy dinner. My brother-in-law sent a copy of a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated he had made with great success and wanted us to give it a try. I admittedly started out with chops from Skagit River Ranch which pushed me into the close-to-perfection class before I even started. The secret to these perfect chops is starting out with a cold pan. Evidentally searing, while it browns the outside nicely, also causes more juice to be released and the inside to require more cooking to actually be done. Not sure I understand it completely but Cook’s Illustrated regards each cooking task as a scientific experiment. This recipe takes less than 20 minutes from pan-to-plate and works perfectly. No more dry, overdone chops for me. Here’s how you do it…..

Rub each chop with olive oil, salt & pepper. On one side, sprinkle some sugar to create a nicely browned surface on the meat. Press the chop into a cold pan, sugar side down and cook on medium heat until it is nicely browned — 4 to 9 minutes (mine took 4 minutes).

Reduce the heat to low, turn your chops over, cover and cook for another 3-6 minutes until the center of the chop registers 140 degrees. The easiest way to measure the temp is to hold the chop vertically with tongs and insert through center. When it is done, place on a platter and tent with foil for 5 minutes. Pour juices back over the chops and serve, brown side up.

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Apple Preserves with Agave Nectar

4 apples, peeled, cored and chopped

4 T liquid, water or a combination of apple cider & water

1/2 t cinnamon

1/2 t grated nutmeg

2T agave nectar

Bring all ingredients except the nectar to a simmer. Cover and simmer gently for 40 minutes. Cool down to warm, add agave nectar and puree in a blender. Top with yogurt.

I found this recipe at gourmet.com. They call it Apple Marmalade which sounds intriguing but I’m puzzled about the name. I know marmalade doesn’t have to contain citrus, but this recipe lands somewhere between applesauce & apple butter. For lack of a better name, I went with preserves. Whatever you call it, it is completely delicious and not overly sweet. It’s just right..


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4 Responses »

  1. Good recipe for the apple preserves! Do you think the idea would work with honey instead of agave nectar? I have great local honey I’ve been using like a fiend 🙂
    On the apples, I’ve found that sometimes they will shrivel up, almost as if they are naturally drying from the outside in, but then are sweet and perfect when cut open/eaten. They look spoiled and spotty, but looks are deceiving in this case I guess…. mine did that, and I was storing them in a big bin in an about 45-50* place.

  2. Mangochild, I’m sure honey will work too. You might want to try 1T first and taste. Sometimes honey has a stronger flavor than you realize. Even if that flavor is wonderful, it can overpower. One of the great things about the agave nectar is that it’s taste is pretty neutral and you need less than you would sugar.
    As far as the apples go, I read that you should store them at
    30-32*. I think my basement was too warm. I need to do some more research for next year’s crop.

  3. I had some agave nectar for the first time the other day with black Turkish tea. A good sugar substitute indeed! And I’m sure there’s a virility angle too…

    As for pig ‘n’ apples. It’s a peanut butter and chocolate kinda thing. Made to go together.

  4. I can’t wait to try this chops recipe. I have always started with a hot pan and have noticed that the outside is well seared before the inside is done.