Pork Chop and Apples

IMG_6988

This weekend was such a tease in Austin.  On Saturday, we had the most beautiful day in a long time.  It was hot enough that if I was outside all day, I probably would’ve gotten a (second) sunburn for the season already.  So, like a good kinda-sorta-Ginger, I stayed out of the sun by watching Captain America in Imax 3d, but then made Mr. Little Fish take me to dinner somewhere, anywhere, with a patio.  Luckily, our favorite neighborhood pizza place is pretty much nothing but a patio, so we spent the evening after the movie enjoying the sun.

But, then, Sunday and Monday came along, and it was rainy and gloomy and kinda chilly again, and today is straight up cold. What’s up with that, Austin?  Winter is (not supposed to be) Coming. I had planned all weekend to make a light, sunny ceviche, and I did (and it was delicious), but I ate it grumpily because my food does not match the weather outside right now (and apparently cooking makes me do things like pay attention to the seasons!).

What does sort of match this weather is this stove-top pork chop with apples dish. Really, it’s a fall dish. Apples are in full season then, and it’s comfort-food-like with a side of mashed potatoes or cauliflower.  But, what I think is great is that this could easily be transformed into a summer dish.  Grilled pork chop and apples anyone? Pork chops are kind of made for the grill, and there are few fruits that don’t benefit from dat charcoal-caramelization.  Unfortunately, I don’t have easy access to a grill, so I’ve forced this recipe indoors, but I would love to hear if anyone decides to try an outdoor variation of it (just through the apple and onions on some foil and throw on grill!)!

Pork Chop and Apples
Serves 3

Ingredients:

3 boneless pork chops
1/2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1.5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 apples (I use one Granny Smith and one Gala for sweetness), cored and sliced
1 onion, diced
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and put a large cast iron or other oven-safe skillet inside to preheat with it.  Pat the pork chops dry with a paper towel, and then, brush the chops lightly with coconut oil and sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides. Set aside until the oven is done heating.
IMG_69782. Remove the skillet from the preheated oven, and place on the stove top over medium high heat.  After a few minutes, lay the pork chops in the skillet, and sear on each side for 2-3 minutes, until the sides are golden brown (NOTE: you may want to turn on your oven vent or open a window, as this produces some smoke!). Remove the pork chops to a plate after they achieve the golden color (don’t worry if they are not cooked; they will cook through in the oven).
IMG_69803. Add the remaining coconut oil to the pan, and add the diced onions, sauteing until they start to soften, about 5-7 minutes.
IMG_69814.  While the onions cook, mix together the melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and some salt and pepper in a small bowl.  When the onions are soft, add this mixture to the pan, along with the sliced apples.  Cook until apples start to soften, about 5 minutes.
IMG_69845. Add the pork chops back to the pan, and spoon the apples and onions mixture over the top of them. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the pork chops reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit with an instant read thermometer stuck into the thickest part of the chops.
IMG_69856.  Remove from oven, and serve the chops with the apples and onions spooned over, and with a side of brussel sprouts to mashed potatoes!
IMG_6986

Pork Chop and Apples
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Serves: 3-4
Ingredients
  • 3 boneless pork chops
  • ½ tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • ½ tbsp brown sugar
  • ⅛ tsp cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp nutmeg
  • 1.5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 apples (I use one Granny Smith and one Gala for sweetness), cored and sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and put a large cast iron or other oven-safe skillet inside to preheat with it.  Pat the pork chops dry with a paper towel, and then, brush the chops lightly with coconut oil and sprinkle salt and pepper on both sides. Set aside until the oven is done heating.
  2. Remove the skillet from the preheated oven, and place on the stove top over medium high heat.  After a few minutes, lay the pork chops in the skillet, and sear on each side for 2-3 minutes, until the sides are golden brown (NOTE: you may want to turn on your oven vent or open a window, as this produces some smoke!). Remove the pork chops to a plate after they achieve the golden color (don't worry if they are not cooked; they will cook through in the oven).
  3. Add the remaining coconut oil to the pan, and add the diced onions, sauteing until they start to soften, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. While the onions cook, mix together the melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and some salt and pepper in a small bowl.  When the onions are soft, add this mixture to the pan, along with the sliced apples.  Cook until apples start to soften, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the pork chops back to the pan, and spoon the apples and onions mixture over the top of them. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the pork chops reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit with an instant read thermometer stuck into the thickest part of the chops.
  6. Remove from oven, and serve the chops with the apples and onions spooned over, and with a side of brussel sprouts to mashed potatoes!

Lighter Shepherd’s Pie

Finally, something not breakfast related!  This is a recipe I had on the back burner for a while.  Mr. Little Fish is very much a (lean) meat and potatoes kind of guy, so he tends not to be overly willing to try new things.

Now, sometimes, when I think Mr. LF isn’t going to like something (or particularly when I know he isn’t gonna like something), I like to play a little game where I try to hide the things in foods he does like, and then SPRING IT ON HIM after he gives a good review.  I’m sure it does not surprise you that I enjoy this game much more than he does.  My special guest star in this recipe?  Cauliflower.  Dude doesn’t like it.  But he does like mashed potatoes.  So, I went halfsies, wanting to get more veggies out of the dish while reducing the starch/carb content a little.  I think my plan would have been perfectly executed, if not for the fact that he actually got home before I did and so saw me unpack the groceries.  =/

In case you are wondering about my protein choice in the Pie, I have nothing against red meat.  I buy mine grass-fed where possible, because it’s lower in saturated fats and doesn’t have inflammatory grains.  We eat some form of beef about once a week.  In fact, I substituted the ground beef that is in traditional Pies with ground turkey precisely because we had just had large steaks a couple days before.  Again, it’s just a balancing issue for me–I try to vary the proteins I eat, as well as the veggies, so that I make sure I get all the nutrients from the different sources.  In any case, because I subbed in poultry, I changed the broth in the recipe to chicken so that the flavors matched.

One last note:  while this recipe is not difficult, it does have a few steps to it.  I modified the original a bit so that you could use one pan for most of the things, but if you are new to cooking, I would recommend doing this on a Sunday afternoon rather than a weeknight.  Then you have lunches for the whole week!

Lighter Shepherd’s Pie
Adapted from Comfort of Cooking

Image

Ingredients:

For the mash topping:
1.5 lbs white potatoes
1 head cauliflower
1 tbsps softened cream cheese or sour cream
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 green onions, chopped

For the filling:
2 lbs lean ground turkey
1 tsp olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, diced
2 tbsps butter
2 tbsps all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
2 tsps Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/4 tsp paprika

Directions

1.  Cut the cauliflower in half, and trim away the cauliflower florets from the base in the middle, like so.
2.  Boil the potatoes and cauliflower in salted water in a large stainless steel pot until tender, for about 12 minutes or when a fork can easily pierce them.*
3.  While the potatoes are boiling, preheat the olive oil in a large dutch oven** over medium high heat.  Add the ground turkey, season with salt and pepper, and brown the meat until mostly cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.
4.  Add the carrot and onion to the meat, and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Lower the heat to low.
5.  When the veggies are done, drain them, and then pour them back into the pot.  Set aside while you get the gravy started.
6.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  When melted, whisk in the flour, and cook for 1 minute.  Whisk in the broth and Worcestershire sauce, and then let the gravy thicken for about a minute.  Pour the mixture over the meat filling in the dutch oven, add the peas, and mix together.
7.  Then, add the cream cheese, egg yolk, chicken broth, and chopped green onions to the potatoes and cauliflower.  Mash by hand, or use a hand mixer or immersion blender to blend until smooth.
8.  Preheat the broiler to high, and set the highest rack to about 6-8 inches away from the broiler.  While it is preheating, spoon the mash evenly over the meat.  Sprinkle the top with paprika.
9.  Put the  dutch oven in the oven and broil until the potatoes are evenly browned, about 5-7 minutes.

IMG_6680

*I wrote these directions with multi-tasking in mind.  If you aren’t comfortable in the kitchen, I would finish the potatoes all the way through first (ie. skip to step 7), and then go back and start with the meat (after having prepped your mise en place, of course).

**I used a dutch oven so that I could go from stove-top to broiler with the meat.  The original recipe calls for filling a rectangular oven-safe dish with the meat and vegetables, but I didn’t want to dirty more dishes.  Feel free to follow the original recipe if you don’t have a dutch or french oven.

Lighter Shepherd's Pie
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • For the mash topping:
  • 1.5 lbs white potatoes
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 tbsps softened cream cheese or sour cream
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • For the filling:
  • 2 lbs lean ground turkey
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tbsps butter
  • 2 tbsps all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tsps Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • ¼ tsp paprika
Directions
  1. Cut the cauliflower in half, and trim away the cauliflower florets from the base in the middle.
  2. Boil the potatoes and cauliflower in salted water in a large stainless steel pot until tender, for about 12 minutes or when a fork can easily pierce them.*
  3. While the potatoes are boiling, preheat the olive oil in a large dutch oven** over medium high heat. Add the ground turkey, season with salt and pepper, and brown the meat until mostly cooked through, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Add the carrot and onion to the meat, and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Lower the heat to low.
  5. When the veggies are done, drain them, and then pour them back into the pot. Set aside while you get the gravy started.
  6. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. When melted, whisk in the flour, and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the broth and Worcestershire sauce, and then let the gravy thicken for about a minute. Pour the mixture over the meat filling in the dutch oven, add the peas, and mix together.
  7. Then, add the cream cheese, egg yolk, chicken broth, and chopped green onions to the potatoes and cauliflower. Mash by hand, or use a hand mixer or immersion blender to blend until smooth.
  8. Preheat the broiler to high, and set the highest rack to about 6-8 inches away from the broiler. While it is preheating, spoon the mash evenly over the meat. Sprinkle the top with paprika.
  9. Put the dutch oven in the oven and broil until the potatoes are evenly browned, about 5-7 minutes.
Notes
*I wrote these directions with multi-tasking in mind. If you aren't comfortable in the kitchen, I would finish the potatoes all the way through first (ie. skip to step 7), and then go back and start with the meat (after having prepped your mise en place, of course).

**I used a dutch oven so that I could go from stove-top to broiler with the meat. The original recipe calls for filling a rectangular oven-safe dish with the meat and vegetables, but I didn't want to dirty more dishes. Feel free to follow the original recipe if you don't have a dutch or french oven.