After culinary school in Rhode Island, then traipsing across the US cooking from one place to the next, I decided it was time to move back to Oklahoma and to make Oklahoma City my home.
My first “real” job fresh out of school was at Applewood’s Restaurant. The life long Oklahoma City residents, or at least those that have been here for twenty or more years, remember Applewoods. Especially those warm sweet, powdered sugar coated, Apple Fritters (no, I do not remember the recipe to the apple fritters. Allegedly.) that were handed out from beginning to end during your meal. Of course, I still get cravings for those! Just like I crave the dinner rolls, the house salad (actually, the house dressing), the Hawaiian chicken salad, the lobster bisque… and every once in awhile… I crave the cider baked pork chops.
The cider baked chops at Applewoods were boneless pork loin chops, braized in a smokey apple cider for a couple of hours and served with a reduction of the cooking juices. It was just one of those dishes that you could live without daily, but when the weather was right, or the mood was right, you just had to have them.
Fast forward twenty or so years to dinner at a friend’s house. Typically whenever I’m invited to a friend’s house for dinner, and it doesn’t happen often enough (a-hem!), whoever is cooking always seems in edge or uptight. They think I will judge the meal.
While I’m here let’s just put some things to rest. 1. I love being invited to YOUR home for dinner. 2. I never judge or think about judging the meal…unless it’s just awful… but you know it’s awful too and so we both laugh.
So back to the friend and her dinner… this particular friend on this particular night pulled out an old school recipe of her mother’s and prepared a boneless pork loin chop with apricots. It was wonderful, and it took me back to my Applewoods days and the cider baked chops. Minus the apple cider and the smokey sweet flavor, but the idea and flavors of tender slow braized pork had me "turnt" on the first bite.
My version of the Applewoods idea, by way of my friend’s mother’s apricot pork chops, has become my client’s favorite braized chops. Get all that? Try these out, use a good quality sherry (sherry and pork together is a great combo), and enjoy the experience.
Ingredients: Serves 2
1 1/2 - 2 pounds boneless butterflied pork loin chops
In The Kitchen With Scotty “The Roast Beast” seasoning or salt and black pepper
Grapeseed Oil for searing
3 tablespoons butter
4 ounces dry sherry
1 cup unsalted beef stock
1 medium yellow onion, diced
6 ounces dried Apricots, halved
3 stems fresh thyme
1 large bay leaf
- In a heavy fry pan or cast iron skillet, heat a couple “glugs” (a tablespoon or two) of the grapeseed oil until it shimmers and slightly smokes. Sprinkle the loin chops with the Roast Beast seasoning or salt and pepper, front to back. Gently lay the chops into the hot pan and sear to a golden brown, about 6 minutes on one side and 4 on the other. Remove the chops to a high sided baking dish.
- add the three tablespoons of butter to the hot pan. Once melted and the bubbling has ended, add the diced onions and the thyme leaves from one of the large stems. Sauté with a pinch or two of the Roast Beast Seasoning until tender and translucent.
- Add the dry sherry to the hot pan to deglaze, and scrape up all the cooked bits from the bottom of the pan. Turn down the heat and slowly simmer.
- Add the beef broth, along with the two remaining stems of the thyme and bay leaf. Pour the liquid over the resting chops in the baking dish, along with the stems of thyme and bay leaf.
- Sprinkle in the halved dried apricots. Cover the dish with aluminum foil, tightly, and place in a 275-degree oven. Bake for 2 1/2-3 hours or until the chops are tender. Taste the braizing jus for any additional seasonings.
- Serve each chop with a nice dressing of the tender apricots and au jus over the top of the pork.