It’s mud season around here. At least it will be soon. The snow is still piled high along the roads, but it is melting, every single day. Spring may be just around the corner, but our appetites are in winter. A warming dish of pork chops with creamy braised cabbage is on the menu while we wait. And wait. And wait.
The technique of browning meat on top of the stove and then popping it into the oven to finish cooking is a favorite of mine, but it’s not just for steaks. A bonus to this method is that you can cook chicken or pork in the same way, and while you are at it, cook some vegetables (either on the stovetop or in the oven) to go with it. Here cabbage and leeks cook slowly in the same pan as the chops so they absorb all the good porky flavors. The flavors balance delectably: sweet cider and leeks melt into the cabbage and cream and the mustard ties them together with a little acidity. The meaty pork infuses all the elements in the oven. This is the supper to look forward to after your early spring walk when it’s still chilly outside.
Eat well, be happy, friends!
Pork chops with cabbage, leeks and cider
4 (9 to 10-ounces each) bone-in pork chops, about 1-inch thick
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium leeks, thinly sliced
1 medium (about 2 1/2 pounds) green cabbage, quartered, cored, and thickly sliced
3/4 cup apple cider
1 teaspoon caraway seed
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (for garnish)
1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Have on hand a deep, heavy 12-inch skillet with a heatproof handle or a shallow flameproof casserole. Sprinkle the chops on both sides with salt and pepper.
2. In the skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the chops to the pan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on a side, or until browned. Transfer to a plate.
3. Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of fat from the pan. Add the leeks and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes, or until softened. Add the cabbage, cider, caraway seed, salt, and pepper. Cover the pan, turn the heat to medium low, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, or until the cabbage is very tender.
4. Stir the cream, grainy mustard, and Dijon mustard into the cabbage and bring to simmer. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Set the chops on top of the cabbage.
5. Roast in the oven, uncovered, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of the meat registers 135 degrees. Let rest for 5 minutes. The pork will continue to cook as it rests.
6. On each plate, spoon some cabbage. Set a chop on top and sprinkle with chopped parsley.
©2009-2019 Sally Pasley Vargas. Writing and photography, all rights reserved.