Any cook worth their salt would tell you, cooking on the bone is ten times better than not doing so. I think this is especially true when dealing with pork. Although simple to cook, it can be technically demanding, as in a matter of seconds it can overcook and become entirely dry and unpalatable. It might seem rather curious to the seasoned cook, but I always think of pork fondly because of one very unique attribute;the ability to work beautifully with apples. Coming from a background, as I’ve mentioned a few times now, where curries and stews were standard fare, reading about pork and apples seemed a bit Willy Wonka to me. It was the promise of such curious combinations, the allure of endless possibilities, which drew me closer to food in the first place. One of the very first recipes I can remember trying was Gordon Ramsay’s pork loin with crispy crackling and apples with tarragon. Clumsy presentation and poor execution were not enough to erase the fundamental culinary principles which were beginning to take shape in my young mind, and I’ve never been the same since. This dish is my homage to that memory, and I can only hope that one person somewhere tries this, and it can have a fraction of that remarkable influence.
- 4 apples (mixed varieties)
- 100 ml apple juice
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 lemon
SWEET POTATO PURÉE
- 3 medium sweet potatoes
- 3 tbsp butter
- 60 ml whole milk
- Salt and pepper
- 4 pork chops bone-in
- 1 head of garlic
- Small bunch thyme
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Watercress leaves
- Optional vinaigrette (olive oil, lemon juice, water, salt and pepper)
- Peel, core, and chop the apples and add to a large pan with the apple juice, cinnamon stick, and brown sugar. Add the zest of the lemon to the pan and squeeze in about 2 tbsp of the lemon juice.
- Simmer for about 10 minutes until the apples have just broken down.
- Move the contents of the pan into a blender or food processor and blend until the desired texture is achieved. A shorter time will result in a more chunky sauce, while a longer time will naturally result in a smoother purée. After this is done, set aside in a serving dish at room temperature to cool until ready for serving.
- As the apple sauce simmers, peel and roughly chop the sweet potatoes and place into boiling salted water for about 10 minutes or until a fork passes cleanly through without resistance.
- Drain the sweet potatoes and then pass through a potato ricer into a large bowl. Being sure to work swiftly, add the butter and milk and mix well with a fork. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Return to a pan at low heat until ready to serve.
- For the pork chops, use a knife to score the rind to ensure even cooking and prevent the chops from curling during the cooking process.
- Season both sides with sea salt and black pepper.
- In a large non-stick frying pan or griddle pan, heat 3 tbsp olive oil until just smoking at just around the medium heat setting.
- Add the chops to the pan and add a halved head of garlic, cut side down.
- Cook for about 6 minutes on each side to achieve just over medium cooking.
- Remove the pork chops from the pan and allow them to rest for 10 minutes on a wire rack. This is a very important step as it allows the meat to relax and the cooking process to reach completion. Sprinkle over fresh thyme leaves as the chops rest.
- As they rest begin assembling the plates by placing a large spoon of sweet potato purée on each of four plates and then place one chop over each
- Place a dollop of the sauce over each chop.
- Add a generous bunch of watercress leaves to each plate.
- To create a quick vinaigrette for the watercress salad, mix 3 tbsp olive oil with a generous squeeze of lemon juice, 1 tbsp water, and salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and around the edge of the plates.