Easy Cold-Weather Dinner: Pork Chops With Apple Cider Pan Sauce

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Juicy pork chops in an easy apple cider pan sauce. Daniel Gritzer

Sometimes cooking is a bit of a choose-your-own-adventure, and you have to weigh the benefits of convenience versus quality. I don't mean deciding between putting in the effort to cook something great or accepting that your dinner is going to be mediocre. Instead, I'm talking about more subtle differences: Do you want to invest the time to make a dish the best it can be, or will a quicker but still very good result suffice?

Take these pan-seared pork chops as an example. I styled the recipe on Kenji's basic method for pan-seared pork chops, which requires an overnight dry-brining before cooking the following day. If you have the time and inclination, it's a method that will deliver the juiciest chops with the most even seasoning throughout.

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But since a dish like this is often one we want to get on the table relatively quickly, I've also included an option in the recipe to skip the overnight dry-brining. The pork chops will still come out juicy and flavorful.

Whether you do the overnight step or not, the one thing that's constant here is the reverse-sear method, in which we first cook the chops in a low 250°F oven until they're nearly done (somewhere around 110 to 120°F depending on your doneness preference), then finish them in a ripping hot skillet to brown them and bring them up to their final temperature.

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While the chops rest, we whip up a quick pan sauce made with shallots, thyme, and apple cider—tapping into that classic pork-and-apple pairing. Butter helps give the sauce a more luxurious texture, and a tiny amount of apple cider vinegar adds a touch of brightness to balance the sweet and rich flavors.

Just choose your path and enjoy. Simple as that.

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