Pork Chops with Red Cabbage and Apricots
This is a trifecta dish: beautiful, simple and delicious. It is a great example of how to use technique to build great flavor: the fond and fat of the pork chops are used to flavor the aromatics for the cabbage. The juices from the resting chops further boost the savory quality just before serving. When they’re all served together, they all speak to each other perfectly. The tang and hue of the apricots against the red cabbage was such a perfect compliment to the perfectly browned, “bacony” naturally-raised chops that I’d gotten from my farm resource, Steve.
I layered the cabbage and chops over spaetzle, taking a bit of each in every bite. The textures were perfect together.
For the pork
Four pork chops, about ¾” thick
For the cabbage
2 large shallots, chopped (about ¼ cup)
1 medium head of fennel, sliced into ¼” strips (about ¾ cup)
½ large head of red cabbage, cored and sliced into ¼” thicknesses
¾ cup dried apricots, sliced into 1/8” thicknesses
Juices from the resting chops
Cook the pork chops
- Preheat oven to 200-degrees.
- Score the layer of fat that it on the outside of the chops every ½” with a sharp knife. Take care not to cut through the fat into the meat. The reason to do this is to keep your chops from curling at the edges.
- Add enough grapeseed oil to a cast iron skillet to coat bottom. Heat over high heat until as hot as possible without smoking.
- Add chops to pan, taking care not to crowd them. Do not move them or peek at them.
- When you can see the edges of the meat starting to cook, flip them over.
- Remove chops from pan onto rimmed baking sheet and place in oven. It is best to remove them from the pan before they’re at ideal serving temperature, as they will cook a bit more in the oven.
Cook the cabbage
- In the same pan that you used to cook the chops, reduce heat to medium-high and, adding more oil if necessary, add the shallots and fennel. Cook for about 4 minutes, or until softened.
- Add the cabbage and cook, turning the mixture frequently with tongs. Salt the mixture with kosher salt.
- When the cabbage is softened, but not totally cooked (probably after about 8 minutes), add the apricots. You should cook about 3 more minutes more until done.
- Pour any juices that have accumulated in the pork chop pan over the cabbage. Taste for seasoning.
- Slice the chops across the grain and serve over the cabbage mixture.
It crossed my mind to add ¼ cup white wine to the cabbage mixture at the end of cooking. I just didn’t have any at hand. I didn’t really miss it but think it might be nice. You might also want to finish this with a little herbage- sage or thyme might be nice.