French-Style Pork Chops with Apples and Calvados

These French-style pork chops with apples and Calvados are seared pork chops, sautéed apple slices, and a boozy Calvados-cider sauce. The recipe incorporates enough technique to make you feel fancy yet is still completely doable for a novice.

Four French-style pork chops with apples and Calvados sauce on a white platter.

Porc à la Normande is the epitome of the classic pork-and-apples flavor pairing. A dish that has graced French tables for hundreds of years, it features an elegant presentation of pork accompanied by sautéed apples that are cut into chunks, rings, or even tournées (oblong football shapes), while a complex, rich sauce made with flambéed Calvados (a French apple brandy) brings everything together.

While traditional versions require hours and an arsenal of pots, we wanted an elegant rendition featuring perfectly cooked pork and apples and a savory sauce rich with complex apple flavor—without requiring a lot of time or cookware.–America’s Test Kitchen

French-Style Pork Chops with Apples and Calvados

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 1 H
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Serves 4
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Evenly sprinkle each pork chop with 3/4 teaspoon salt. Place the chops on a large plate, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

While the chops rest, cut 2 apples into 1/2-inch (12-mm) pieces.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook the bacon until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the shallots, nutmeg, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until shallots are softened and beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and add 1/4 cup Calvados and let it warm through, about 5 seconds. Carefully wave a lit fireplace match or wooden skewer over the saucepan until the Calvados ignites and then gently shake the saucepan to distribute the flames. After the flames subside, 30 to 60 seconds, cover the saucepan to ensure the flames are extinguished, about 15 seconds more.

Carefully add the remaining 1/4 cup Calvados and repeat the flambéing. This second time the flames may take 1 1/2 to 2 minutes to subside.

When the flames have extinguished, increase the heat to medium-high. Add the cider, 1 cup broth, thyme sprigs, butter, and chopped apples and bring to simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the apples are very tender and the mixture has reduced to 2 1/3 cups, 25 to 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and cover.

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C).

Slice the remaining 2 apples into 1/2-inch-thick (12-mm) rings. Pat chops dry with paper towels and season each chop with 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

In 12-inch (30-cm) skillet over medium heat, warm the oil until just beginning to smoke, about 2 minutes. Increase the heat to high and brown chops on both sides, about 6 minutes total.

Transfer the chops to a large plate and reduce the heat to medium. Add the apple rings to the skillet and cook until lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1/4 cup broth and cook, scraping up any browned bits with rubber spatula, until liquid has evaporated, about 30 seconds.

Remove the skillet from the heat, flip the apples, and place the pork chops on the apples. Place the skillet in oven and cook until chops register 135 to 140°F (57 to 60°C), 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the exact thickness.

Tester tip: If your pork chops are thinner than 1 inch, start checking them for doneness after 4 minutes. Similarly, if they’re thicker than 1 inch, they may need as long as 20 minutes in the oven.

Transfer the pork chops and apples to a platter, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.

While the pork chops rest, place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and strain the apple-brandy mixture, pressing on the solids with a ladle or rubber spatula to extract the liquid. (Make sure to scrape anything on the underside of the strainer into the sauce.) Do what you want with the solids—you could discard them but we consider this foolish and instead reserve them to serve as a jam or chutney.

Stir the minced thyme into the sauce. Season with the vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and pass it separately.

Tester tip: The exact amount of vinegar you add will vary depending on the sweetness of your cider.
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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This recipe was such a “de-light” to complete! The results were absolutely fantastic. For the next time, and there will be a next time, the steps will be streamlined for sure. I may be able to even shave off 10 minutes or so. Each step was a building block to a wonderful finale. It was all worth it!

My favorite part, other than eating of course, was the flambé! Not once, but twice the pleasure of watching the flames lick away at the shallots and bacon, paving the way to a luxurious and complex sauce! Usually, sauce ingredients that are used for flavorings have a spent look and are discarded after they’ve served their function. Although the recipe described this expectation, I found that the resulting apple, shallot, and bacon purée was jammy and chutney-like so I actually served it as a chutney. The strained sauce was velvety, tangy, and savory. It complemented the thick, juicy, and peppery pork chops. The apples held their shape and were tasty with just a hint of sweetness. The finished dish was elegant, delicious, and evocative of the traditional Porc à la Normande.

Removed the thyme from the solids and served the solids as a chutney as they were delicious and did not look “spent.” The sauce was velvety and thick enough.

This made 4 generous servings that were served with thyme mashed potatoes.

Four French-style pork chops with apples and calvados sauce in a gravy boat in the center.

I love pork chops but usually find them difficult to prepare without being dry (unless prepared in a Crockpot). These chops were anything but dry! The chops were tasty and tender with very little cooking time.

I liked the process of browning them for a few minutes and then finishing in the skillet. This way they are nicely browned and make a pleasing presentation. The apple rings were such an easy, flavorful addition to the meal. They have a nice texture—not too soft.

The sauce was not as flavorful as I had hoped. It seemed to be more work than was worth it for the finished product. I could not really taste the thyme or any hint of bacon in the finished product. I would have liked it to be more savory and a little thicker consistency.

Overall, this was a really good meal. With the addition of some flavor to the sauce it would be great!


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