Eight ingredients, plus pantry staples. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a feast for family or friends. That's the philosophy behind our "8 & $20" feature. We hope it adds pleasure to your table.
My husband and I were recently visiting his parents in San Diego, which gave me the rare opportunity to cook a family dinner for my in-laws. The cooler temperatures seemingly followed us from New York, and the first few days of our trip had an uncharacteristically fall feel for Southern California. The comforting flavors of autumn seemed in order for our meal.
Pork chops have the homey feel I wanted, and they cook quickly to boot. I chose to use bone-in chops to slow down the cooking time a bit, while helping to maintain the tenderness and flavor. Applesauce made for a quick glaze, and it can also serve as an easy condiment.
A big, heaping plate of roasted yams, parsnips and apples made the perfect side. Feel free to substitute vegetables of your preference; most root vegetables should work well here. The vegetables become tender and sweet as they roast, while the apple pieces, which add a hint of tartness, will soften. A few pieces will start to caramelize, lightly saucing the rest of the vegetables. The woodsy fragrance of rosemary provided a lovely counterpoint to the sweetness of the vegetables and apples.
For a dish that has a touch of sweetness like this one, my go-to wines tend to be aromatic whites, typically with a small amount of residual sugar, from regions such as Alsace or Germany. Since I was in California, however, I decided to look for similar varieties produced on the West Coast. A trip to the grocery store yielded a Pinot Gris from Oregon, a Washington Riesling and a Viognier blend from Santa Barbara County to serve as a wild card.
The Viognier blend had heady floral aromas, but it didn’t do much for the food and vice versa. The other two wines were a different story. Initially, the group was split on the favorite between the Pinot Gris and the Riesling. Each had spicy notes and a richness that stood up to the pork.
Ultimately, the Riesling, with a hint more residual sugar, was better able to handle the sweeter components of the dish. As my mother-in-law noted, when sipped together with the food, the whole package encapsulated all the elements of fall.
Total time: 70 minutes
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
Active cooking time: 15 minutes
Approximate food costs: $20
1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
2. Mix the 2 ounces of apple cider vinegar and 2 ounces of olive oil, and whisk together until the mixture emulsifies.
3. Combine the diced apples, yams and parsnips. Slowly drizzle with the oil and vinegar mixture to coat lightly, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Spread the apples and vegetables in a single layer in a large, greased roasting pan. Top with 2 to 3 sprigs of rosemary and place in the oven. Toss every 15 to 20 minutes.
4. Once the apples and vegetables have been in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or are nearly tender, oil the pork chops on both sides and season with salt and pepper. Heat a small amount of oil in a large skillet or frying pan on a medium-high setting. Once hot, add the pork chops to the pan, along with 2 sprigs of rosemary. Cook the chops on the first side for three minutes, or until they achieve a golden sear. Flip and cook for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute on the second side. Remove the chop from heat.
5. Mix the applesauce with the 2 remaining tablespoons of vinegar to thin the consistency. Brush the mixture on the pork chops, lightly coating both sides. Transfer the pork chops to the roasting pan with the apples and vegetables, laying them right on top, and cook them for another 4 to 5 minutes or until they achieve an internal temperature of 140° F to 145° F. (Note: This may vary depending on the thickness of the pork chop.)
6. Remove the pork chops from the roasting pan, transfer to a platter and tent with aluminum foil. Allow the chops to rest for about 5 minutes. As the pork rests, the internal temperature will continue to rise and the chops will finish cooking.
7. Meanwhile, check that the apples and vegetables are tender. If not, return to the oven to continue cooking while the pork rests. If they have reached your desired consistency, place back in the oven at a reduced temperature of 300° F to keep them warm until serving.
8. To serve, transfer the vegetable mixture to a large platter and top with the pork chops. Garnish with additional rosemary if desired. Serves 4.