It's October and nothing says fall quite like crisp apples and warm bacon...and a whole lot of tasty tasty hard cider.
Oh, and bacon...did I mention there's bacon in it?
Apples and bacon and booze...oh my!
So, grab that photo ID and let's hit the grocery store to get you some ingredients!
**for those of you out there who wish to keep this booze free (boring), you are welcome to substitute regular apple cider...
Step 1: Git Yer Sh** Together...
Things you'll need to beg/buy/borrow/steal...
3-6 (1 inch thick) pork chops
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1 large (1 1/2 cups) onions, coarsely chopped (Walla Walla sweet yellow or red)
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh garlic
2 apples, cored, diced or thinly sliced ( I prefer Granny Smith, but Golden Delicious are also very good)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup maple syrup (the REAL stuff...none of that 'pancake syrup' crap...I love Grade B as it's a bit darker and has more flavor, but A is fine as well).
4 strips cooked and crumbled bacon
2 bottles hard apple cider (I love Woodchuck, but any will do)
3 bottles hard apple cider (Again I vote Woodchuck, but whatever floats your boat is cool)
1/2 cup maple syrup (See above note about syrup).
1/4 cup salt
2 cups water
Step 2: Brine Time
The key to success with this recipe is the long long soak your tender little pork chops are going to take BEFORE you throw them in the pan.
First thing we have to do is whip up the brine.
For the brine, pour the cold water, 2 of the bottles of hard cider and maple syrup into a large plastic or glass container or a 2 gallon zip top plastic bag. Stir until the salt is dissolved fully.
Once the salt is dissolved, place your pork chops into the brine, making sure they're fully covered.
Now, crack the top of that third bottle and enjoy...you deserve it.
(Totally nerdy tip that actually works...if your pork chops are floating and you're putting them into a container, use a clean cap from a drink to push the chops below the liquid line. Fill the liquid up as much as you can and then put the cap onto the top chop. When you put on the lid, it pushes the cap (and the chop) down. MacGyver, baby!)
Now that your piggies are soaking, put them in the fridge for a MINIMUM of 2 hours. Personally I'm a 24 hour brine time girl but if you just can' t wait...well, at least try to wait for 120 minutes.
Step 3: License to Grill...er...fry...
Once you're done soaking your chops in the brine, take them out, lightly rinse and pat them dry. Dump the brine...it's done.
Season both sides of your chops with a pinch of pepper. Don't salt them...they've already soaked in brine...any more and it'll be too much...
Throw your butter into a hot skillet, let it melt and lightly foam, and then toss in those chops.
Cook them for about 6 minutes, turning just once at the 3 minute mark. They're not going to cook all the way...we just want a good sear on them to start first.
Once they've browned, take them out of the pan (don't dump the butter) and keep them warm.
Step 4: An Apple a Day...
Reduce the heat on your pan to Medium. Add in the onions, salt and garlic and let them cook until the onions are just starting to turn translucent (about 2 minutes).
Add the apples, crumbled bacon and lemon juice and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.
Open one of your bottles of hard cider and take a good long swig. Enjoy that crisp taste. Now, share a good slug with your cooking apples and onions...about 1/4 of a cup is good. Drink the rest yourself.
Step 5: Boozy Beauties!
Reduce the heat on your pan to low.
Add the chops back into the pan right on top of those sweet sweet apples, bacon, hard cider and onions.
Cover your pan with a lid and cook for about 6-10 minutes or until the center reaches 145 F.
Again, pull those chops out and keep them warm (let them rest a bit!)...but leave the apple onion mix in the pan.
Add your maple syrup and increase the temperature to medium-high...you want the syrup to simmer and thicken up...about 5-7 minutes.
Step 6: Sweet Sweet Reward
Place your chops on a plate and top with your apple onion mixture. Grab a knife and a fork and another bottle of hard apple cider and sit down, kick back, and dig into that amazingly awesome dinner you just whipped up.
Oh so so good!
This recipe will make 3-6 pork chops.