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Apple Cider Sage Pork Chops

Oleh : DominoQQ

Perfect pork chops brined in apple cider and cooked with fresh apples and sage. They look impressive, but between you and me, they’re super easy to make! All you need is a cast iron skillet and a my insider tips for juicy, crusty browned, no-fail pork chops.

Apple cider sage pork chops in a skillet

Apple Cider, Sage-y Pork Chops – The Best Fall Dinner Idea

Let’s scrap the idea that restaurant-worthy, pan fried pork chops are unattainable at home. It’s quite the opposite! The secret here relies on a few techniques – brining, searing time, temperature testing, and a beautifully browned butter base.

But before we get started, let me just say that this apple cider, sage version hits the sweet spot for an impressive (and relatively inexpensive) fall dinner idea. The pork chops are brined in an apple cider solution, seared until golden in browned butter, then cooked with fresh apples and sage. Oh yeah – so good.

It’s a nice break from the typical chicken or steak, and honestly gives pork chops the spotlight they deserve on a weeknight dinner or holiday table! So grab your best cast iron skillet and I’ll show you how to cook pork chops to perfection.

Ingredients for apple cider sage pork chops on table.

Ingredients You’ll Need

For mouthwatering chops – brining is a small (yet crucial) step. I’ll go more into detail why later, but here’s what you’ll need for it.

For the brine you’ll need:

  • Water & Apple Cider: If you can, grab apple cider and not apple juice. There’s a difference!
  • Kosher Salt & Black Peppercorns: Salt plays a huge role in tenderizing the meat (which I’ll talk more about below) and the peppercorns will give this a spiced kick.
  • Garlic & Sage Leaves: A fall inspired aromatic combo that really takes these pork chops over the top.

For the pork chops you’ll need:

  • Butter: Opt for unsalted butter as the chops will already have been soaked in the salty, briny solution.
  • Pork Chops: Bone-in pork chops are the way to go for maximum tenderness. (Keep on reading to see why!)
  • Apples: Freshly sliced apples are added for a sweet, crisp touch, and taste amazing with a bite of that savory pork chop. I personally like honeycrisp or gala apple for this recipe, but you can use what you like.
  • Coconut Sugar: Just one tablespoon is needed to give a touch of sweetness to the buttery skillet sauce.
  • Shallot & Sage Leaves: I’m adding a bit more sage leaves again to really enhance the overall autumnal flavor.
  • Apple Cider & Dijon Mustard: A blend of these two will add lots of flavor and depth to the apple cider sauce.

Find the printable recipe with measurements below.

Bone-In vs Boneless Pork Chops

Let’s cut to the chase between the ongoing debate of bone-in vs boneless. Yes, both can yield juicy, perfectly cooked results. But bone-in meats, and even seafood (like my grilled salmon steaks), have the upper hand in a few areas. Here’s my case:

  • There’s more fatty goodness around the bone. As the pork chop cooks, the bone heats up the fat and the juices slowly get distributed into the meat. This will give the chop a juicier flavor and texture.
  • It helps to cook it low and slow. Since bone-in meats take longer to cook, the meat is slightly more juicy and tender, and not as easily overcooked. Similar to how slow cooker recipes break down meats to meltingly tender goodness.
Apple pork chop brining solution in a white pot.

The Secret To Juicy Pork Chops: The Brine

Did you know that pork chops are naturally lean? Which means they’re prone to drying out faster when cooked – and no one wants to eat a rubbery pork chop. So, I’ve got a little tip for you – brining! This extra step early in the process goes a long way for extra juicy results.

When pork chops are soaked in brine (a mixture of salt, liquid, and sometimes aromatics), it helps to add additional moisture and flavor from the get-go. More specifically, the salt has a tenderizing effect on the meat, helping to soften the muscle fibers.

And good news – the brining process isn’t as long as you think. You only really need an hour or two. Heck, you’ll even notice a difference after 30 minutes. Just make sure not to exceed 12 hours, otherwise it’ll have a reverse effect and activate that (unwanted) rubbery texture again.

What’s The Ideal Internal Temperature?

According to the USDA, the safe internal pork cooking temperature is 145°F, followed by a 3-minute rest before eating. This will result in a product that is both safe to eat and at its best quality—juicy, moist, and slightly pink in the middle (yes, a smidge of pink is okay).

But make sure to use an instant-read thermometer to check the temperature before removing from the skillet. Just slide it into the thickest part of the pork chop at a 45° angle, making sure not to poke it all the way through, just halfway.

How To Sear Pork Chops

Are you ready for the best pork chops ever? You’ll be blown away with these chops seared in buttery, apple cider goodness, and cooked to a perfectly juicy interior. Let’s get started!

Start with the brine. In a small pot, bring the brining ingredients to a boil (except the apple cider). Remove from the heat, stir in the apple cider, and let it cool. Then, place the pork chops in a dish, bowl, or sealed bag, and pour the cooled brine over the pork chops. Brine for a few hours in the fridge.

Prep the chops. Remove the pork chops from the brine, rinse with cold water, and pat them dry with paper towels. Then let them come to room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes.

Let the searing begin! Heat your cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of butter and oil. Once it starts to cook a little, turn the heat down to medium and add the pork chops. Sear for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Then move them to a plate and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm while you make the apple cider sage sauce.

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