Though the story of this dish is rather long, its appeal is immediate and clear. Shaved Brussels sprouts and apples combine to make a tart and acidic salad, which plays off a big meaty pork chop. It's obviously more of a fall dish, but it's easy to admire all year long.
But to that story. It all began after devouring a crisp and tart Brussels sprout and apple salad at Sylvain in New Orleans. While great on its own (as was everything at the charming restaurant), I couldn't help but wonder how the salad would work as a refreshing counterpoint to a hunk of meat. I suppose any cut would work, but the apples made thick, bone-in pork chop seem like the obvious pairing.
I could have served the sautéed pork chop next to the salad, but I wanted to find a way to incorporate the two components. For the salad, I came up with an extra acidic dressing, using both apple cider vinegar and lemon juice, along with honey to smooth the edges out. At first, I was just going to drizzle some of the dressing on top of the chops, but then I remembered a trick Michael Symon taught me: instead of deglazing a pan with stock, Symon routinely uses a vinaigrette. After cooking the meat, any excess fat is poured off, and then the dressing is added. Any browned bits are scraped up and whisked into a quick sauce that is still acidic, with a noticeable caramelized profile.
It's a dish full of contrasts. The salad is crunchy and tart, while the meaty pork chops are juicy and tender. Plus, it's fascinating to see how the same vinaigrette can transform when reduced in the skillet.
- Yield:serves 4
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:30 minutes
- 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup slivered almonds
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, very thinly sliced
- 1 large tart apple, cored, sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 4 thick pork chops, about 1 1/2-inch thick
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Meanwhile, combine apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, and honey in a medium bowl. Whisk in the olive oil until combined. Season dressing with salt and pepper.
Heat a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add almonds and cook until lightly toasted, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Turn off the heat. Scoop out almonds with a spatula, and transfer to a large bowl. Wipe out skillet.
Combine brussels sprouts and sliced apples in the large bowl. Add 1/4 cup of the dressing and toss well. Taste and add more dressing if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Season pork chops generously with salt and pepper. Return skillet to medium-high heat and add oil. Heat until just starting to smoke. Add chops and cook until browned on the bottom, three to four minutes. Flip the chops and brown on the other side, another three to four minutes. Transfer chops to oven and continue to cook until an instant read thermometer entered into the deepest part of the chop register 140°F, 2 to 4 minutes longer. When done, transfer chops to a plate and set aside.
Pour off any fat in the skillet. Let cool for a minute, then set the skillet over medium heat. Pour in 1/4 cup of dressing and stir constantly with a wooden spoon to dislodge any browned bits. When dressing has slightly thickened, about 1 minute, turn off heat.
Serve the pork chops with the Brussels sprout and apple salad on the side. Spoon some of the cooked dressing on the pork chops.