Pork Chops with Leek Mash and Caramalized Apples :
I’ve always loved a pork chop, but somehow every time I made them, they seemed a little dry or tough. I tried all sorts of ways of cooking them, and also bought meat from lots of different butchers, but I just couldn’t get the succulent result I wanted, until … The secret of a perfect pork chop for me is to brine them first. Basically that means steeping them in salted water for a couple of hours before you cook them. Simplest of tips, but best results.
Preparation Time: Brining time is from 30 minutes to 4 hours, whatever you can manage. The rest of the preparation will take about 25 minutes.
Cooking Time: Up to 30 minutes – some of this time will depend on how thick your chops are.
For the Pork Chops
500ml / 1pt. tap water
2 x bay leaves
2 x tsp of salt
1 x tsp of whole black peppercorns
2 x smashed garlic cloves
½ tsp of juniper berries (optional)
The Pork Chops
4 x pork chops on the bone
1 x tbsp of olive oil
For the Mash
800gr /1.7 lb potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 x large leek, cleaned thoroughly and sliced thinly
2 x garlic cloves, chopped finely
About a tbsp of olive oil
2 x tsps of Dijon mustard (or to taste)
Salt and Black pepper to taste
For the Apples
1 x tbsp of butter
3 or 4 apples sliced into thick orange segment shapes (don’t peel the apples)
A drizzle of honey
- Place the brine ingredients in a dish that will hold the pork so that the water will cover your meat. If you need more water to cover the meat remember to adjust the ratio of the salt and other ingredients accordingly. Place the pork in the brine and leave it for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.
- To cook the potatoes place them in a pan and cover them generously in tap water and a little salt, cover and bring to the boil, remove the lid and cook until there is little resistance to the tip of a knife when pressed into the potato. Drain and set aside in a colander to steam for a couple of minutes.
- In another pan heat the olive oil on a medium heat when hot add the garlic and the leeks. Sweat the leeks down by keeping them on a low heat and covering the pan with a close fitting lid. Stir very occasionally just to check they are not sticking but there is enough heat to cook them. Ideally you don’t want to get colour on your leeks that’s why we’re not frying them intensely. The idea is to keep the colour of your mash nice an pale.
- To finish the potatoes put them back in their pan, mash them, add in the leeks, mustard, salt and pepper, mix and mash until smooth. Check for seasoning and set aside until you need them. If you cover the pan with a close fitting lid, this will keep warm for about 10 minutes.
- To cook the pork pre-heat your oven to 200°C / 400°F
- Remove the pork from the brine and pat it dry with paper towels then rub both sides of each chop with olive oil.
- Place a non-stick frying pan on a high heat, get it nice and hot, then place the chops in the pan – they should sizzle immediately. Give them about 3 minutes on each side to colour, without turning them in between.
- Place the chops in the oven and roast them for 12 to 15 minutes. You can check if they are ready by using a meat thermometer, but I usually just slice into the thickest part of the chop that I will eat and check there is no pink colour.
- In another frying pan place the butter in on a medium to high heat, once it has melted add your apple slices. Let them fry for about 3 minutes on each side. The idea is to get them brown, softened, but still with a bit of crunch. Finish them by squeezing over a little honey (maybe only a teaspoon or so), toss them in the honey and serve on the side of your dish.
Tips and Variations
- I used to find that pork chops could become dry and a bit tough, but since using this brining method they stay nice and juicy.
- Leeks can trap dust and dirt in between their layers. I find the best way to make sure they are clean is to slice them down the middle lengthways so that you can run the water and clean in between each section.
- I normally use whatever eating apples I have, I don’t buy cooking apples for this recipe. The amount f honey you use will depend on how sweet the apples are.
- If you don’t have a frying pan that you can transfer to the oven, use a roasting tray, but heat it up in the oven whilst you are browning the chops in a pan, then transfer them to the tray. Don’t forget to use your oven gloves when you are moving these pans and trays around though.