Sometimes, creating healthy recipes takes quite a bit of planning. There are ingredients to be bought, quantities to be recalculated, and substitutions to be made. Some fail.
Others succeed. Many an evening, I emerge from the kitchen tired but victorious, content that another nutritious meal can be shared with the interweb.
Sometimes, it's raining and pork chops are on sale.
Pork Chops with Green Apple and Tomatillo Sauce, originally from the June 2004 issue of Gourmet is a lovely twist on the American classic. The pork is flavored by a cumin and coriander rub, which melds wonderfully with the tart, slightly spicy apple topping. As center cut pork chops are pretty lean, it's on the lighter side calorie-wise, too.
I made four chops: two were brined for eight hours beforehand, and two were straight from the fridge. In a surprising twist, there was little difference in the resulting flavor and moistness. I chalked this up to two things: the pork was sliced fairly thin and cooked very quickly. If you're a die-hard briner, there's no harm in salting the meat, but don't feel that it's necessary.
The recipe makes quite a lot of sauce—much more than needed for the pork. However, this is a good thing. Epicurious reviewers concur the leftovers go wonderfully with chicken, or as a straight-up salsa. I'm eating my extra with a spoon.
So, here's to lacking a strategy. Sometimes, it's the only way to cook.
- For pork chops:
- 1-1/2 tablespoons ground coriander
- 1-1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt (readers suggest cutting salt)
- 1/2 to 3/2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 4 (3/4- to 1-inch-thick) center cut pork chops (about 4-oz each), trimmed of visible fat
- For sauce:
- 1/2 lb fresh tomatillos (about 5), husks discarded and tomatillos rinsed
- 2 Granny Smith apples
- 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro sprigs
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 cup apple juice
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon mild honey
- 1 teaspoon minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo
Preheat oven to 450ºF. Cover a roasting pan with aluminum foil and coat with cooking spray. Set aside.
Mix coriander, cumin, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Add oil and combine. Rub mixture on chops, and let sit while making sauce.
In a medium saucepan, simmer tomatillos in 3 cups water for 8 to 10 minutes, or until tomatillos are soft. Drain and let cool for 15 minutes.
While tomatillos are cooling, peel apples, core them, and cut into 1/4-inch cubes. Set aside.
Remove any stems from cooled tomatillos. Then, in food processor, combine cilantro, garlic, cumin, apple juice, lime juice, honey, chipotles, and tomatillos, and puree. Place in a bowl with apples and stir until combined.
Heat remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a large pan over high heat. Sear pork chops 3 minutes on either side. Transfer chops to roasting pan and bake in oven 8 to 10 minutes, or until inner temperature has hit 150ºF. When finished cooking, remove chops, and let sit 5 minutes. Serve with Apple Tomatillo Sauce.