It does not have to be this way. The fix is simple: brining. I don’t always advocate brining meats, as whole brined chickens is often over salty. However, if you brine pork chops the salt acts as a flavor enhancer, making the pork’s inherent flavors more vibrant. The brine also pumps up the pork’s natural sweetness while tenderizing the meat to allow you to cook it through while still remaining juicy. Brining pork chops is a must.
After a simple brine, the pork is easy to grill up just like a steak. I prefer bone-in chops, simply because I always feel bone-in meat has more flavor than bone-less meat, so why pay the extra price to have the butcher remove the bone?
Apples and pork are one of the most classic flavor pairings of the culinary world. Why do these two flavors work so well together? I have no idea. Perhaps it is pork’s tendency to be sweeter than other meats, maybe the tartness of the apple cuts through some of the fattier meat content. Maybe it’s that pigs and apples share a common ancestor. The paggle tree? (I’m pretty sure it’s not that last one.) It can be very hard to determine why certain flavors compliment each other so well, and it can be even harder to describe, but the fact of the matter is pork and apples go together like barley and hops.
As much as I love apple sauce, I wanted to do a little something different. I took apples and cooked them in a little butter with pork’s two other favorite flavor pairings: sage and spice. (For the spice I used red pepper flakes.)
I served all of this over mashed potatoes. There are many ways to make mashed potatoes, and I like them all. I like to make mashed potatoes that suit the dish well, however. So I mashed the boiled red potatoes with sour cream instead of milk, and stirred in some chopped chives.
The idea when you are cooking is to ideally make a dish in which the ideal forkful would be a little of everything on the plate. When you make this dish at home, make sure you eat the pork, potatoes, and apples together for the perfect bite.
Grilled Pork Chops
2 bone-in pork chops
1 cups water
3 Tbsp. sugar (granulated white sugar, while brown sugar might be tempting, it will not penetrate the meat to tenderize it.)
3 Tbsp. sea salt
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- Combine the ingredients for the brine. Submerge the pork chops in the brine and soak for 1 hour.
- Preheat the grill for 15 minutes.
- Grill the pork chops for 5 to 7 minutes per side, with a quarter turn halfway through for awesome grill marks. Cook until the pork chop has reached an internal temperature of 160 degrees.
Spicy Saged Apples
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp. fresh sage, chopped or 1 tsp. dried sage
salt to taste
red pepper flakes to taste
- Dice the apples. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and add apples, salt and sage.
- Cook until apples have softened, about 10 minutes. Add red pepper flakes during the last 2 minutes of cooking.
Sour Cream and Chive Mashed Potatoes
2 red or gold potatoes
½ cup sour cream
1 Tbsp. chopped chives
salt and pepper to taste
- Quarter the potatoes. Put them in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. (I prefer the skins on. Better texture and better for you. But if you prefer no skins, peel the potatoes first.)
- Drain the potatoes. Immediately add butter, sour cream, chives, salt and pepper. Mash the potatoes using your preferred method. (I use an electric hand blender, but a hand masher works just as well if you don’t mind some elbow grease.)