The fall season in Juneau is a bit different than in other parts of the country. In the northeastern states such as Maine and New Hampshire, the fall colors are breathtaking, the air is crisp and everything is about apples and pumpkins. Many a visitor travels to this area to enjoy the beautiful scenery and the chilly weather.
As many know, summer is the high visitor season in Southeast Alaska and as we get more than 1 million visitors to our city. I love the energy, not to mention business boom that we experience during those months.
Come October, life gets a little more laid back. Many locals go on holidays to enjoy a respite from the hectic summer and the typical sideways rain storms. I of course look forward to the food. I’m talking autumnal soups, stews and roasts and pies. Everything is pumpkin, corn or apple. Seriously, does it get any better?
I truly enjoy seasonal fare. When we eat something such as pumpkin pie or corn chowder, we often have great memories of something similar, or a time in which we had that food. For some reason, autumnal foods seem to have this effect more than other seasons. I wonder if this is because fall is such a distinct season. It marks specific changes in the year. School starts again, wardrobes get thicker with coats and sweaters and the holidays are just around the corner. The days are getting shorter, the air cooler and the colors of nature more vibrant. People are preparing to hunker down for winter and enjoy quality family time.
For my contribution to autumn I wanted to cook something that could be made year-round, but tasted like a brisk walk on a cloudy afternoon. I opted to skip pumpkin recipes, as they are so plentiful and on about every food blog, website, and social media outlet available. No, I think I’ll go with something a bit different. Fall is about harvest and preparation for winter. It’s about family and celebrations – beginning with Halloween and then onto my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. I decided on a pork chop recipe, with a twist.
One of my fondest childhood memories is my mom making fried pork chops. They were simply seasoned with salt and pepper and then fried in a cast iron skillet. Mom would then make milk gravy from the drippings and serve them with rice and two vegetables, one green, one yellow. This was a perfect meal in my world. But, with no disrespect to Mom, I wanted to take it to a different level and incorporate a few more flavors of autumn. From this basic recipe, I created pork chops with applesauce gravy.
I know, it sounds strange, but give it a try. You will be surprised at how well these two go together. The key is to have everything ready before you start cooking, because it doesn’t take long. Definitely add the diced apples and dried cranberries for texture and color. They taste good and look pretty.
I made this new recipe last night for my friends Elizabeth and Michael, who are two of the best cooks I know. Michael is a particularly amazing cook who hails from Louisiana. The bar is set pretty darn high with him, so I was a bit concerned this might be a little too out of the box for him. He declared that he liked it, which I take as a great compliment.
This week I present a recipe that tastes like my favorite season of the year and is easy to make: Pork Chops with Applesauce Gravy. I encourage you to think outside of the box of tradition and see what you can create.
Until next time…
Eat and enjoy,
A fun twist on the famous "pork chops with applesauce". This recipe is easy to make and tastes like a crisp autumn day.
- 4- 5 pork chops, bone-in -
- 1 tablespoon olive or canola oil -
- 1 tablespoon butter -
- 1 shallot, minced -
- 1 1/2 cups applesauce -
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (or 2 teaspoons dried) -
- 1 apple, diced -
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries -
- Salt and pepper -
Season chops with salt and pepper on both sides. Gently place in hot pan and cook until browned, about 2 minutes. Turn and cook other side about 3 minutes. You’re going for a medium to dark golden brown.
Remove chops from pan and set aside. Drain all oil except for 2 tablespoons. Reduce heat to medium and add shallots. Sauté until softened. Add apple cider and cook until reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add thyme and applesauce; continue cooking for additional 5 – 7 minutes until sauce is well incorporated. Stir in apples and dried cranberries.
Serve with parsley mashed potatoes or rice pilaf.