Yummers. Crusty on the outside, melt-in-your-mouth tender meat on the inside, you can’t go more right with this cooking technique for pork chops. Pair them with this delightful Sweet Apple Cabbage Salad and braise it all in the oven, and you have yourself a very satisfying, healthy and beautiful (don’t forget beautiful!) dinner.
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This Sweet Apple Cabbage Salad has become one of my absolute favorites. I’ve been buying big bundles of 20 itty-bitty-bite-sized apples at the farmer’s market for 3 Brazilian Reais (that’s about 1 euro) every Sunday for the past weeks and really started running out of ideas of how to eat them. Raw, raw with almond butter, in porridge, in scones… Then I remembered how much I loved when my mom made her classic green salad with apples and walnuts at home and started chopping them up to put in green salads. And since that got my creative juices flowing, I decided to put them in a cabbage stir fry next. That’s how I discovered that cabbage and apples are actually totally the way to go. It’s sooo good that I think it’s going to become a thing in gastronomy soon, just wait for it. This is one of those things where I’ll be able to say I was doing it before it was cool once all the foodie bloggers are going to start putting up their versions of Sweet Apple Cabbage salad on Instagram and Pinterest. If anybody asks, I came up with the idea to put raisins in there first, ok?
So this is more of a weekend recipe or something you’ll want to make for special guests that you want to wow with your cooking skills. It’s actually not the least bit difficult to make, but it requires 2 hours of slow oven cooking so you need to plan ahead, but the result is completely worth it. I never cease to be amazed by the incredible results that slow, long, low-heat oven cooking can do to meat. Wrapping the pork chops in cabbage leaves and covering the dish with aluminium foil will hold in all the moisture and slowly braise the meat, letting it take in all the flavors and seasonings as well as the slight sweetness from the apples and the cabbage. I had never tasted such tender pork chops before in my life! I generally rarely bought pork chops because I used to think it was a tough, dry meat, but it’s just that I was going about the wrong way to cook them (at least for my taste). They can actually be melt-in-your-mouth with the right technique. The raisins are just such a great addition. Being the fair, equal-opportunity, non-discriminant socialist that I am, especially when it comes to food distribution, I made sure everyone had the same amount of raisins in their plate so there’d be no fighting (hey, I’d fight over a raisin, wouldn’t you?). HAHA this reminds me of something hilarious I saw on the Tumblr “What should we call paleo life”. This site makes my day.
Recipe: Braised Pork Chops in Sweet Apple Cabbage Salad
3-4 Pork Chops
1/2 head of white cabbage + 3-4 whole cabbage leaves
1 large onion
1 large apple or 2 small ones
1-2 handfuls of raisins (about 1/4 cup)
3-4 tbsp of Rosemary (1 tbsp per pork chop)
1 tbsp Paprika
2 tbsp dried garlic
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1/2 cup of organic broth (chicken or vegetable)
Olive oil, for cooking
Salt and fresh pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C)
2. Generously season the pork chops on both sides with salt, cracked peppercorns, paprika, dried garlic and rosemary. Lightly rub the seasonings in with your hands.
3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on high heat and brown the pork chops for 3 minutes on one side until you get a nice golden crust. Turn over with tongs and brown for another 1-2 minutes. Remove from the skillet and reserve on a plate.
4. Chop the onion in half-moons. Heat more oil in the same skillet where you browned the pork chops and saute the onions for 5 minutes. Dice the apple and add to the onion with the cumin seeds. Saute for 3 more minutes until the apple begins to soften.
5. Wash the cabbage, detach 3-4 whole leaves (as many leaves as there are pork chops) and reserve. Cut the cabbage in half and slice one of the halves into thin strips (reserve the other half for another time). Add the cabbage strips to the pan, saute for a few minutes to combine with the apples and onions, then add the broth and scrape the brown bits stuck at the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Cook for 5 more minutes.
6. Transfer the cooked contents of the skillet to a large baking dish, tuck two bay leaves in the cabbage and sprinkle with raisins. Add the pork chops on top and cover each one with a cabbage leaf, tucking the edges of the leaf under the pork chop and into the dish. Cover the dish with aluminium foil and cook for 2 hours at 180°C. The meat will be extra tender!
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