Italian

A Slightly Cheffy, Definitely Worth-It Tip for More Flavorful Pork Chops

September 30, 2016

Pork cooked with fruit is a very classic combination, and one I adapt to what’s in season. I originally created this recipe to go with peaches, but it's perfect with fall’s apples, as well.

In this recipe, the pork chops are seared and basted before they’re baked: While that’s the type of chef technique I usually try to get rid of when cooking at home, I do find that slightly frying herbs and garlic in hot cooking fat as they rest on top of the chops really does infuse the meat with flavor.

In Central Italy, pork is also often paired with small local lentils, which have a nuttier flavor than regular brown lentils and remain firm and hold their shape during cooking. Lentils have been consumed since antiquity in Italy, where the best-known variety is called Castelluccio, named for the town in Umbria where they are grown.

They may be one of those legumes that conjure bad memories of childhood meals, but when cooked right, I think lentils are amazing. And unlike other dried beans, they don’t need to be soaked overnight and can be cooked straight from the box. I try to always keep some in my pantry: Cooked up with a few basic vegetables like carrots, celery, and onion, they are a quick, nutritious meal in and of themselves.

Here, mustard and cream are added to the lentils while they cook to sharpen and sweeten their flavor: The mustard provides a slight piquancy and the cream, cooked away to the point where you can’t even see it, gives a full richness to these somewhat earthy legumes. In Italy, we would probably just swirl a tablespoon of olive oil into the lentils right before serving them, but I also love this slightly French version, as well.

Some tips to help you along the way:

  • If you don’t have thyme, I would suggest rosemary or sage in its place.
  • Any apple variety will work, but if I can, I like to do this with a nice crisp apple such as a Macoun or Pippin.
  • If you are pressed for time in making this, the lentils can easily be made the day before and simply reheated while cooking the pork chops.

Tell us: How are you using apples in savory meals this fall? Write your favorite dish in the comments!

1 Comment

Smaug September 30, 2016
Cheffy? Has this site now declared open warfare on the English language?