About Apple Cider Pork Chops
It seems crazy that the holidays are just around the corner, and an old friend of mine and I have already started changing our to-go dinner habits.
As the weather turns cooler, we’re bundling up in the house more – and, let me tell you, he can not wait to light the first fire of the season in our fireplace. He’s being as patient as he can (read: not so patient) for the Phoenix weather to finally get with the fall & winter program.
And also, as we get closer to the end of the year, we’ve started gravitating more toward the baked comfort foods. It’s all those delicious savory dishes that really make me love this time of year.
I’ve already got a couple go-to recipes in my comfort cooking arsenal, but my latest discovery came from an ingredient I stumbled across in the Fresh Meat Department at our local Bashas’: Smithfield Prime Fresh Pork.
When shopping at Bashas’, be sure to find the Smithfield Prime label with a blue glow behind the lettering. If you don’t see it on display with the packaged meats, ask for it at the butcher’s counter!
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that an old friend of mine is the big “meat eater” in our household. And don’t get me wrong – I would never turn down a good cut of meat – but between the two of us, he’s the one that likes to make sure it stays a staple in our diets. He especially loves cuts of meat that include the bone because he says it emphases the flavor.
So, I’m always happy to indulge him with his favorite dinners, but in the case of Smithfield, I think we’ve found a new dinner option that’s a perfect fit for both of us. He gets to have his savory cut of meat while I enjoy the fact that Smithfield Prime Fresh Pork is extremely tender and juicy (in fact, it’s 20% more tender than other leading brands for natural pork.)
Plus, with Smithfield, they don’t use growth promotants, have no added hormones or steroids, the product is made in the USA, and it’s gluten free. I think we can agree that not all pork is created equal, and I’m always looking for easy ways to improve the quality of the food we eat. Smithfield Prime Bone In Thick Cut Pork Chops were an easy win-win for us.
As for the recipe itself, I love that it embodies one of the key flavors of fall: apple cider. This is done by creating a brine for the meat that’s flavored with the cider, giving the thick-cut pork chops the perfect taste of fall.
If you haven’t cooked a lot of meat like this, I’ll bet you might be wondering – why bother with a brine? Well, the primary reason is due to taste. Brine is essentially a salt water solution, and when the pork absorbs it, it helps the meat become a juicier and more flavorful dish. Plus, a brine is a perfect way to infuse some additional flavor, which is exactly what I did by adding apple cider to the mix. And, finally, brining also helps prevent the meat from drying out while baking, and since this recipe is baked, a good brine is crucial.
So when you couple Smithfield’s already tender pork with a good brine, the results are simply amazing.
Seriously – talk about perfection.
If you’re looking for more festive ideas to add pork to your fall and winter cooking (tis the season for pork, after all!) be sure to check out the Smithfield site for more meal ideas. I’ve already picked some new recipes!
notes & tips for these apple cider pork chops
- One thing I’ve learned over the years is that there are multiple methods and methodologies for baking meat in the oven. I included my favorite way to cook bone-in pork chops in this recipe, but there are plenty of other approaches for bone-in and other types of cuts. If you’d like to do a little more research before turning on the oven, check out How Long Do I Bake Pork Chops, How To Cook Tender, Jucy Pork Chops In The Oven, and How to Make Oven-Baked Boneless Pork Chops.
- If miniature sweet peppers aren’t your “thing” feel free to substitute these for any other veggie of your choice. Potatoes and green beans are great options!
- Can’t get enough pork chops? Then you’re sure to love this recipe for One Pan Smoky Ranch Pork Chops and Veggies.
Apple Cider Pork Chops
These tender bone-in thick cut pork chops are soaked in an apple cider brine and then baked to tender perfection with miniature sweet peppers.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring water, salt, brown sugar, thyme, peppercorns, and cloves to a boil. Cook for 2-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until salt and sugar have dissolved.
Remove saucepan from heat. Add ice cubes and stir until ice has melted, then stir in chilled apple cider.
Place bone-in pork chops in a Ziploc bag (gallon sized), then pour in apple cider brine. Seal bag and refrigerate pork chops for 6-12 hours, turning the bag half way through.
In a large bowl, add olive oil and miniature sweet peppers. Toss peppers in oil, then arrange on the prepared baking sheet.
Remove pork chops from bag; discard brine. Rince pork chops thoroughly and pat dry with a paper towel. Dip pork chops in remaining olive oil, coating both sides, then arrange on the prepared baking sheet. Season peppers and pork with salt and pepper, to taste. If desired, sprinkle a little brown sugar on top of the pork chops.
Bake peppers and pork chops for 20 minutes, then use tongs to flip. Cook for another 30-40 minutes or until reaches 140°F to 145°F at the thickest part with an instant-read thermometer.
Serve pork chops and sweet peppers immediately.