Pork Chops with Cider, Horseradish and Dill
My kids love pork. My kids love apple cider. My kids love dill. So, of course, they love Deb Perelman’s Pork Chops with Apple Cider, Horseradish and Dill. And so does daddy. Why didn’t I think of this combination of apple cider, apple cider vinegar, horseradish and dill? It’s sweet, yet savory and absolutely delicious.
My friend at work recommended that I make these a few weeks ago, and now they have become part of the weeknight dinner rotation. Provided that your kids don’t drink all of the apple cider before you cook it and you have fresh dill on hand, it is easily and quickly made on a week night in 15-20 minutes flat.
To me, pork chops are a difficult meat to cook because it is a tight rope walk between bright pink undercooked gloopiness to overcooked white hockey puck. I personally like them best when there is just a touch of pink left in them and they are utterly juicy.
Now that I have made these pork chops a few times, I’d like to place some emphasis on certain instructions so you don’t make the same missteps I have.
First, do your best to find bone in pork chops that are 1/2 an inch thick. This is not just a suggestion by Perelman, it is an important instruction. The first time I made these I had very thin pork chops and they got overlooked. I recommend that you reduce the time cooked in the apple cider broth to 2–3 minutes if your pork chops are on the thinner side.
The second time I had monster thick pork chops. I had to cook them longer in the broth that almost burned off by the time I was done. And one really thick one I had to throw in the oven to finish up because I was smoking up my kitchen with burnt apple broth! In this sort of situation, cover the broth when you cook the chops to keep the broth in if you have to cook them for a few minutes longer.
Second, do pat dry the pork chops and get that skillet smoking before dumping the salt and peppered chops into the pan. Otherwise, you won’t get the pretty browning you see in the smitten kitchen cookbook.
Third, Perelman advises that you use room temperature chops. Translation for the weeknight cook: make sure your chops are sufficiently defrosted or else they will cook unevenly and may require more cooking time, which will lead to a smoked out kitchen. See #1.
Fourth, your spatula is your friend here. Use it to feel out whether your chop is cooked though. You want it firm to the touch, with just a very little give. If it is squooshy, it needs more time. If it feels like a brick, well there is no turning back. You’ll be eating a well done, but still flavorful pork chop. But it won’t be simply marvelous as Perelman undoubtedly intended.
- ½ cup (120 ml) cider vinegar
- ½ cup (120 ml) hard or pressed apple cider
- 2 tablespoons (30 grams) freshly grated horseradish
- ½ teaspoon salt
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- 4 bone-in loin pork chops, ½ inch thick (1½ pounds/680 grams total), room temperature
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- t tablespoon fresh dill
- Whisk the glaze ingredients together in a small dish, and set aside.
- Trim any excess fat around chops until it is but a thin ribbon, no more than ⅛ inch thick.
- Pat chops dry with a paper towel, and generously season with salt and pepper.
- Heat oil in a heavy 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until the oil starts to smoke.
- Add the pork chops to the skillet, and cook them until they are well browned, about 3 minutes.
- Turn the chops, and cook 1 minute longer; then transfer chops to a plate and pour off any fat in skillet.
- Pour glaze mixture into the emptied skillet. Bring it to a simmer, and cook until mixture thickens enough so your spatula leaves a trail when scraped across the pan, about 2 to 4 minutes.
- Return the chops and any accumulated juices from their plate to skillet; turn to coat both sides with glaze.
- Cook them over medium heat in the glaze until the center of the chops registers 140°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 5 minutes.
- Adjust seasonings to taste.