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The combination of pork and apples is the first meal I think of during the fall. The pairing is traditional and is sometimes swapped out for applesauce.
Pork is a simple, savory meat and apples offset it with a slight sugary note. Fruit has the amazing ability to provide sweetness to a meal without making it seem like a dessert. The apples gain an almost savory quality, especially when mixed with cabbage.
To make this a one-skillet meal, the chops are brined first to ensure a well-seasoned and juicy meat. Once brined, they’re browned but not fully cooked. Onions and cabbage are cooked, pulling up any drippings left from the pork. Lastly, apples are added. The pork lays on top of the cabbage and apples and everything is finished in the oven, braising the cabbage and apples and finishing the pork perfectly.
Now that’s a great weeknight meal!
Why pair apples with pork?
There are a lot of theories as to why these two are always paired together. One is that, in ancient times, the acidity of apples helped digest meats such as pork. Another is that farmers used to let pigs clean up the orchards of any fallen apples, thus associating the two.
The one I think is most true is that in the fall, when apples are usually ripe, farmers often begin butchering their meat and eventually put the two together.
Apples are a great fruit to cook with, but picking firm, crisp apples is important so that they hold up during the cook time. Adding the savory, slightly sweet allspice lifts the cabbage and brings the apples and cabbage into a perfect combination.
Do bone-in pork chops have to be used?
No, you can use boneless pork chops as well. Boneless will cook slightly quicker so be sure to watch closely. Leaving the bone on the pork chops helps retain moisture during the cooking time and gives slightly more flavor to the meat.
Does allspice work well with cabbage?
Allspice usually seems like it’s reserved for apple pies and crisps. The spice is made from ground dry berries of Pimenta dioica trees and is related to cloves. The spice works surprisingly well in the marinade for the pork chops and in the cabbage and apples component of this dish. The slight hint of the warming spice marries together the various flavors and ingredients. When eating, you cannot place the fact that allspice is used, but you enjoy the warm spice flavor imparted in each bite.
Watch how to make this cabbage and apples recipe
Pork Chops with Cabbage and Apples
For the pork chops
- 4 6-oz bone-in pork chops
- 1 tbsp salt
- ¾ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp allspice
- ¾ tsp black pepper
For the cabbage and apples
- 1 medium onion sliced
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 lb cabbage sliced
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 large apples
- In a small bowl, combine the salt, garlic powder, onion powder, allspice, and black pepper. Mix together. Sprinkle on all sides of pork chops, using all the spice mixture. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
- Once the pork chops have brined, remove them from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Over medium heat, add 1 tbsp neutral oil in a 12-inch oven-safe skillet. Brown the pork chops on both sides, 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
- In the same skillet add the sliced onions and salt to the remaining oil and pork drippings. Sauté until softened and slightly brown, 4-5 minutes. Deglaze the pan by adding the apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, allspice, and pepper. Add the sliced cabbage and cook until beginning softened and slightly reduce in volume, 4-5 minutes. Add the apples. Stir and add the pork chops on top.
- Roast in the oven until the pork chops reach 155°F. Remove the skillet from the oven and allow the pork chops to rest for 10 minutes to finish cooking and reach a temperature of 160°F.
- Slice off the bone of leave whole and serve with the cabbage and apples.