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Cider-Braised Pork Chops
October/November 2008

Tasters preferred 1-inch blade chops in our recipe for Cider-Braised Pork Chops for their heft, silky meat, and rich taste. It took a little longer for the chops to become tender, but the wait was worth it. Patting the chops dry before adding them to the heated Dutch oven helped them develop a flavorful crust. Apple cider lent a sweet tartness to the braising mixture and sauce, while a bit of fresh thyme provided a heady herbal component. Jarred apple butter added tons of flavor, and its natural pectin gave the sauce a thick, glossy consistency.

Serves 6

Do not use chops thinner than 1 inch. In step 3, a fat separator makes quick work of defatting the sauce.

6 bone-in blade-cut pork chops, about 1 inch thick
Salt and pepper
2tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4cup apple butter
1cup apple cider
1sprig fresh thyme
1teaspoon cider vinegar
1tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Pat chops dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown chops in two batches, about 4 minutes per side; transfer to plate.

2. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from pot and cook onion over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, flour, and 2 tablespoons apple butter and cook until onions are coated and mixture is fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in cider and thyme, scraping up any browned bits with wooden spoon, and bring to boil. Add browned chops and any accumulated juices to pot, cover, and transfer to oven. Braise until chops are completely tender, about 1½ hours.

3. Transfer chops to serving platter. Strain sauce, then use a shallow spoon to skim off fat. Whisk in vinegar, parsley, and remaining apple butter. Season with salt and pepper. Serve, passing sauce at table.

Make Ahead: Chops and sauce can be refrigerated separately for up to 2 days. To serve, heat sauce and chops together over medium heat until chops are warmed through.

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