Photo by Andy Lyons
A sprinkle of coarsely crushed fennel seed and black peppercorns give lean pork chops a compelling sausage-like flavor which marries beautifully here with a sauté of onions, apples, sweet potatoes and hearty kale leaves. I recommend using either curly or Tuscan (Lacinato) kale– while baby kale will work, it doesn’t offer the same springy texture and volume that works best here. Once the pork is cooked until it’s juicy inside and a luscious golden brown crust forms on the outside it’s transferred to a plate and the deposits of flavorful fond left in the pan are absorbed by the onions as they soften, and ultimately dissolve into the broth to form a light pan sauce which is thickened with a hint of tangy mustard. All in all these pork chops with apple will be on the table in less than an hour, making it a blessing on a busy weeknight.
Fennel Rubbed Pork Chops with Apple, Kale and Sweet Potato
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
4 boneless loin pork chops (about 1-inch thick, about 1 pound total)
2 medium sweet potatoes (9-10 ounces each), cut into ½-inch dice
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
½ medium onion, cut thinly into half moons
1 medium red apple, such as Jonagold or Honeycrisp, unpeeled, sliced into ¼-inch thick wedges
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 cups, lightly packed, coarsely chopped kale leaves (1 small bunch)
Place the fennel seeds and black peppercorns into a small sealable plastic bag, then use a mallet or rolling pin to hammer the seeds until they are coarsely ground. (Alternatively you can pulse them briefly in a spice or coffee grinder.) Season the pork on both sides with fennel and pepper and sprinkle both sides with ¼ teaspoon of the salt.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large high-sided skillet (one that has a lid) over a medium heat. Add the potatoes to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are fork tender, 10 minutes. Season them with ¼ teaspoon of the salt then transfer them to a plate.
Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the skillet and heat to over a medium-high heat. Add the pork to the skillet, then reduce the heat to medium and cook, turning once, until the meat is nicely browned on the outside and slightly blush inside, 2 ½ -3 minutes per side. Transfer the pork to a plate and tent it with foil.
Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet, then add the onion and cook until it has softened, about 2 minutes. Add the apple slices to the pan and cook for 1 minute more. Add the broth to the pan then stir in the mustard and return the potatoes to the skillet. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Cooker until the apple has softened slightly and the liquid has reduced a bit, 1-2 minutes. Add the kale and the remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale is tender but retains its shape and color, about 1 minute. Add any accumulated juices from the plate of pork to the pan. Serve the pork with the vegetable mixture alongside, drizzle with the pan sauce. The dish will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Makes 4 servings
Serving Size: 1 piece of pork and 1 cup vegetable mixture
Per Serving: Calories 450, Total Fat 21g; (Sat Fat 3.5g, Mono Fat 12g, Poly Fat 2g); Protein 24g; Carb 41g; Fiber 7g; Cholesterol 60mg; Sodium 640mg, Total Sugar 13g (Added Sugar 0g)
Excellent source of: Copper, Folate, Manganese, Niacin, Phosphorous, Protein, Riboflavin, Selenium, Thiamine, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Zinc
Good source of: Calcium, Fiber, Iron, Magnesium, Pantothenic acid, Potassium, Vitamin E