Dinner Rush! Pork Chops With Warm Fennel-Apple Slaw
Isn't fall just the best? In New York, anyway, the dappled landscape of red and orange leaves and the ever-present smell of apple cider doughnuts frying in vats of oil so dark and overused you can't see through it just screams: "Feed me something delicious and hearty! And put on a sweater! Now!"
At my dinner table, the flavors of fall usually revolve around some combination of pork, fennel and apples — a serendipitous trifecta of flavor that has brought us together here today over this digital screen. It's a combination that I find simple to prepare and a consistently delicious hit, even with a quick preparation like this one.
I like to use a bone-in chop for a recipe like this, which sits at the intersection where traditional peppers and onions meet a vinegary-mustardy slaw. The bone-in cut just looks better and is usually a better buy in the grocery store, as it costs less per pound. The quick cook time on the vegetables keeps their crunch intact and makes for a satisfying (and expedient) dinner that is great on its own or bolstered up with some instant polenta or roasted potatoes.
Give it a try and celebrate as you enjoy your inaugural meal of the best season of the year.
1 small bulb fennel, bulb and stalks thinly sliced, fronds roughly chopped, divided
Place a large skillet over medium-high heat with the olive oil. Season the pork chops liberally with salt and pepper, then sear in the pan until deep golden brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Remove the chops to a plate and let them rest.
Return the same skillet to medium heat and add in the fennel, onion and caraway seeds. Saute, stirring frequently, until the vegetables begin to tenderize, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the mustard, vinegar and whiskey (if using) and continue cooking until the liquids have mostly reduced, 3 to 4 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat, then stir in the grated apple and reserved fennel fronds; adjust the seasoning as needed with salt and pepper.
Serve the pork chops over the warm fennel-apple slaw.
NOTE: Grating the apple is a great way to save time when preparing this dish, especially since we’'re looking more for the flavor than the texture. Run it over the large holes of a box grater or through a food processor fitted with a grater attachment, just be careful not to do it more than a few minutes before adding it to the pan, as the cut apple will begin to turn brown.
Patrick W. Decker’s life revolves around food. Always has, probably always will. As a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and past member of the culinary team for Food Network stars like Rachael Ray, Sandra Lee and Paula Deen, he now works as a food stylist and producer in NYC by day, and a food writer and recipe developer at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley by night. You can see what he’s up to by following his latest Tweets on Twitter at @patrickwdecker or visiting his website at patrickwdecker.com.