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Perfect Pork Chops

Seared Pork Chop with Vanilla Braised Celery and Apples

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Pork is magical because it is so versatile and goes well with so many flavors. Applesauce is to pork what mint jelly is to lamb. When apples flood the stores, this is a simple and hearty side that lends plenty of sweet and savory.

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I chose to brine this pork chop. It only needs about 6 hours unless they are very thick. You can place pork in brine and take it out when you get home from work. You are shooting for 5-8%, so that would be a cup or a little less per gallon of water. After the brine you want to give them a little rinse and return them to the fridge uncovered so they can dry.

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Ingredients:

Celery, one stalk, cut into sticks, tender green leaves reserved
Honey crisp apples, cored and cut into discs
Onion, julienned
Garlic, 4 cloves, peeled and smashed
Butter, 2 tablespoons
Chicken stock, 2 cups
Port wine, ½ cup
Orange juice, ½ cup, zest first and reserve zest
Bay leaf, one
Thyme, two sprigs
Vanilla bean, split and scraped
Crushed red pepper, pinch

Method:
Sauté the garlic and onions in the butter. When onions begin to brown, add the celery and continue to cook on medium high heat for 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, bay leaf, red pepper and 2 sprigs of thyme. Add the port wine and cook off alcohol. Add the orange juice and simmer for 5 minutes. Add apples, vanilla, plus the whole bean and chicken stock. Reduce to a low simmer until apples are tender. Strain the liquid from apples and set aside. Reduce the liquid and use as a broth, or reduce further and use as a sauce.

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Pork Chop:
Season chop with oil, salt and pepper. Pro tip: use a cooling rack to place the meat on when seasoning to prevent over seasoning. Preheat pan on medium heat, and then lay pork in pan. There should be a steady quick sizzle, but no smoke. When chop lifts easily from the pan, flip and cook until desired temperature. (Don’t ever force the flip, the pork will release when it is ready. If it burns without releasing, your heat is too high, the pan wasn’t preheated properly or the pork was wet.) Remove from pan, add a pat of butter and let pork rest. You can deglaze your pork pan with the apple jus to finish reduction while pork rests. Mount the jus with butter, this should be added once the pan is removed from heat with a swirling motion. Be sure to taste the jus as it reduces to ensure it does not get too salty. Garnish with orange zest and celery leaves.

*A recipe by Chef Jes Tantalo

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