This roast pork chops dinner contains everything that makes an autumn dinner special–apples, kale, apple cider, mashed potatoes, and pork chops. Full of color and texture, it’s sure to be on repeat at your table.
This is comfort food if there ever was some. This dish exists because of our friends at Sewall Orchard. Mia and Bob run the oldest certified organic orchard in the state. They produce the finest apples—heirloom and other varieties—and the season when we can get them is short. On a beautiful fall day, we put on our leather jackets and drove out in the Alfa Romeo Spider with the top down, windows up. Fall colors, great roads, great sports car. Maine. How lucky are we? I bought a boatload of apples and came up with this way to use them. Apples are always great with pork, so I doubled down with cider and cider vinegar. Mashed potatoes and kale round out a perfect fall dish.–Kerry Altiero and Katherine Gaudet
HOW DO I COOK A ONE-PAN DINNER IN SEPARATE PANS?
As is inevitable when you make supper in a single pan, ingredients are going to touch and some things may be slightly less done than perfect while other things are slightly more done than perfect. It’s the trade-off for the lack of juggling and it works quite well for most of us. If, however, you’re keen on multitasking or simply prefer a kale chip that’s perfectly crisp throughout without any risk of it being soggy along an edge that flopped down into the pan sauce, even if it means another baking sheet to clean, by all means, break apart the recipe into its component parts and execute each separately.
The mashed potatoes can get nuked or warmed in a saucepan over very low heat. Apples and cider cook down in a small baking dish. Pork chops get transferred to the oven in the same skillet in which they were seared. Kale chips get to stretch out on their very own baking sheet.
Everything takes the same time as indicated in the recipe below, but you’ll be able to pull the pork chops from the heat precisely when the pork is done to your liking and not a minute later—and without having to extricate them from beneath a layer of kale. It’s just a matter of priority and personal preference. Either way, we think you’re going to find this spectacle of autumn goodness quite lovely and worthy of repeating, whichever way you get it to the table.
Roast Pork Chops
- 1 1/2 cups mashed potatoes
- 2 apples preferably Gala, halved or quartered and cored
- 3/4 cup apple cider or more or less to taste
- 6 leaves kale preferably lacinato or dinosaur kale
- Olive oil
- Two (8-ounce) center-cut boneless pork chops
- Coarsely ground black pepper
- A drizzle cider vinegar (Sewall’s is great stuff)
- Preheat your oven to 375°F (191°C).
- In a 9-by-12-inch (23-by-30-centimeters) baking dish, place the mashed potatoes in a pile. Next to them place the apples, cut side up. Brush both with the oil. Pour the apple cider into the dish and turn to coat the apples. Bake until the apples begin to turn tender, at least 10 minutes and quite possibly as much as 20 minutes. They may begin to puff (don't worry, they won't explode, although they will eventually deflate).
- Meanwhile, rinse the kale leaves and pat them completely dry. (And when we say "completely dry," we mean all the way dry. If the kale isn't dry, it won't crisp properly.) Drizzle each leaf with a couple of drops of olive oil and, using your hands, rub to completely coat the leaf.
- Pat the pork chops completely dry and season on both sides with salt and pepper to taste. Heat a 9-inch (23-centimeter) heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat. Add just enough oil to slick the surface of the skillet. Add the chops and sear, turning once, until browned but not cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from the heat.
- Remove the baking pan from the oven, push the apples to the side, and add the seared chops. Place the kale leaves in a single layer on top of the chops and potatoes and apples and return the pan to the oven to roast until the kale is dark green and begins to crisp at the edges and the pork chops are cooked through, 7 to 12 minutes.
- When the chops are done, the apples are tender, the kale crisp, and the potatoes warmed through, plate them and spoon the cider over the chops and apples. Drizzle some cider vinegar over everything. Finish with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Serve with beer, preferably a hoppy IPA. Friends, all is good in this world.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This made a very nice meal, and the apple flavor really shone through. Plus my kids loved all of it, which I didn’t expect. I used a sour cream mashed potato recipe that is my standard go-to and always holds up well when reheated. I baked the potatoes and apples for 17 minutes before the apples seemed appropriately puffed. No issues with exploding.
I then added the kale, which was a very frilly variety that I have growing in the garden. This crisped up really nicely, probably because there were so many exposed frilly edges. It took 7 minutes to crisp. Overall the flavor was great. The apples softened up beautifully and were so nice mixed with the potato and smeared on the pork. The crisp kale contrasted really well in both texture and flavor. This recipe served 2 adults and 2 children at our house but would probably be right for 2 big appetites.
This is a perfect fall dish. It could certainly be considered “comfort food,” but this dish has so many refined flavors that elevate it to what I consider “restaurant-quality.” The concept of cooking everything in a single pan is not only clever but also, more importantly, allows the flavors to meld with a unifying pan sauce that develops all on its own as the dish cooks in the oven.
The final dish, covered in crispy curly kale, has great visual appeal as well. I seared the chops long enough to get a nice caramelization on the surface. The apples were well-cooked but did not get to the consistency of applesauce. Next time, I’ll add a full cup of cider to the pan. We liked the sauce very much but felt there should have been a bit more, so an extra 1/4 cup should do the trick. The dish will serve 2 to 4, depending on the size of your appetites.
Let me start by saying that this recipe turned out very, very tasty. I absolutely LOVED the idea of all of these lovely fall ingredients in one meal and, even better, cooked in one pan. I actually subbed cauliflower purée for the mashed potatoes, which was equally as delish, and for the kale, I used a head of organic Lacinato kale.
The boneless pork chops my local grocery had were boneless butterflied pork loin chops, which were very nice. I admit that I did rub each pork chop with a touch of sage along with the salt and pepper. My apples needed at least 25 minutes in the oven to get to the consistency of applesauce. My kale leaves didn’t crisp—they were tasty and tender, but not crisp. This turned out to be 2 nice servings for dinner, and as I said, the combination of ingredients and flavors was very good.
The flavors were spot-on. We used regular green kale. I quartered the apples, and they never got soft—they were “al dente” at best. This worked okay and, in fact, was better than if the apples had turned into mush because then the entire texture of the sides, apart from the kale, would have been one-note. My kale chips were half crisped (the ones underneath were chewy), and my cider never boiled, meaning that there was a lot of liquid, and the mashed potatoes went fairly sodden in the bottom of the pan.
I would make this again making the following changes—I’d bake at a higher temp for the first amount of cooking time and use less cider (maybe 1/2 cup at most).
Originally published October 11, 2015