Easy Pork Chop Dinner

It may be officially spring, but there are still some days that feel more like winter. During transitional periods like this, meals that straddle both seasons are great to have around when the weather suddenly changes from one extreme to the next. It’s true: pork chops can be (and are) eaten all year round. More often than not, though, they tend to be served during the cooler months, especially when paired up with heavier side dishes like mashed potatoes, polenta, or creamed greens. But there’s no need to wait until the fall to enjoy the following simple weeknight supper, which pairs medium-thick (quick-cooking) pork chops with a refreshing slaw. This dish works well whether it’s sunny, rainy, or snowing where you happen to be.

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These days, apples and cabbage can be purchased all year round, but once upon a time, they were considered fall/winter produce. Serving either one with pork (in the form of sautéed apples or sauerkraut, for instance) is a classic pairing. When both the fruit and vegetable are thinly sliced and tossed with a bit of red onion and fennel, the combination takes on a decidedly lighter spring feel. This slaw gets its zingy kick from apple cider vinegar and whole grain mustard, with a little sweetness from maple syrup to balance things out. In addition to being a complementary side dish to simply seasoned and seared pork chops, the crunchy slaw also makes an excellent accompaniment to ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, and fried or roasted chicken. 

Go-to Meal All Year Round

As for the chops, choosing a bone-in cut prevents the meat from drying out and overcooking as quickly as with boneless pork chops. With nothing more than a generous sprinkling of kosher salt and ground black pepper for flavor and several minutes of searing on each side, these pork chops are super simple—and that’s the whole point. During other times of the year, change up the side dish to reflect what’s fresh and seasonal at the market: roasted Brussels sprouts or butternut squash in the fall, root vegetable mash in the winter, sautéed sugar snap peas in the spring, and grilled peaches in the summer. Should you decide to experiment and incorporate other flavors into the pork down the road, consider the following ideas, all of which require very little additional work:

-adding ground fennel or ground cumin along with the salt and pepper

-adding a sprig of rosemary into the oil while it warms up

-using smoked salt instead of kosher salt

Whether you opt to keep things simple or decide to mix thing up once in a while, these chops just might end up being a go-to meal all year round.

Skillet Pork Chops with Apple, Fennel and Cabbage Slaw

If you prefer to use boneless pork chops, check the meat for doneness earlier, as it will cook more quickly than bone-in chops. To make prep even faster for the slaw, use a food processor with a slicing blade or a mandoline instead of a knife.

Ingredients

2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar

1 Tbs. maple syrup

1 Tbs. whole grain mustard

4 Tbs. olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tart crisp apple, such as Pink Lady or Granny Smith, cored and julienned

1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced crosswise

1/4 red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 small head of green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced

4 bone-in center-cut pork chops, about 1-inch thick

Cooking Instructions

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, 3 Tbs. of the olive oil, 1 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Add the apple, fennel and cabbage and toss to combine. Transfer to a serving platter.

2. Pat the pork chops dry with paper towels and season liberally with salt and pepper. Warm the remaining 1 Tbs. oil in a large heavy fry pan over medium-high heat until almost smoking.

3. Add the pork chops and cook until well browned on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Turn the chops over, reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook 3 to 4 minutes longer. To test for doneness, make a small cut into the chop near the bone: the meat should be slightly pink and the juices should run clear or very light pink. Transfer to a cutting board, tent with foil and let rest 5 minutes.

4. To serve, place the chops on top of the slaw.

Serves 4

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