Braised pasture-raised pork chops

Bone-in pastured pork chops

Bone-in pastured pork chops

The pork

Dry the surface of 4 bone-in pasture-raised pork chops.  Bone-in chops have more flavor and cook more evenly than boneless chops, so you will want to always get bone-in chops unless you plan to make something like a stuffed pork chops.  This does preclude having baby-back ribs, but it's worth it.

Season the chops on each side.  A relatively simple mix of seasonings will best allow more pork flavor to come out in the final plate, but use whatever you like.  It's the better flavor of pasture-raised pork that brings this dish together: if you use store-bought chops the dish will still taste good but you will miss out on most of the pork flavor.

Browning the chops

Browning the chops

Season a mixture of cornmeal and flour, unless your flour comes seasoned.  Bam!  Dredge the seasoned chops in the flour mixture.  Heat lard or bacon fat in a cast-iron skillet or dutch oven that has a lid.  Add the chops.  Cook uncovered on medium-high heat on each side of the chops until the surface begins to brown.  Don't overcrowd the pan: cook one or two chops at a time instead.  Once the chops are browned on both sides remove them from the pan and set aside.  Reserve the cooking fat in the pan.

The veg

Sliced onion and apple

Sliced onion and apple

Slice one large yellow onion and peel and core 2 or 3 apples and cut into eighths.  Add the onion and apple to the skillet and cook on low-medium heat, stirring occasionally until the onions turn translucent.  Add minced garlic and continue cooking until the onions just begin to brown. 

Add cabbage and stock

Add cabbage and stock

Add chopped fresh cabbage, either green or red or a mix of both.  Use an amount of cabbage equal to approximately one small head.  Cook until the cabbage begins to wilt and then add about two cups of stock.  Add just enough stock to the pan so you can begin to see the liquid but not so much as to cover all the vegetables: see the photo above.  The stock can be vegetable, pork, chicken, beef...probably not fish stock.  Alternatively, replace one cup of stock with something like white wine, apple cider, orange juice, or pineapple juice.  

The braise

Add the browned pork chops back to to pan.  Nestle the chops in the vegetable mixture.  If you like, sprinkle in some caraway seed or similar whole spice.  It is okay to cram the chops into the pan and they do not need to be completely submerged in the braising liquid as it will increase in amount as the cabbage cooks down.  Cover the pan with a well-fitting lid and simmer on low heat for 2 or 3 hours until the pork is falling off the bone.  Plan for a long braise: once finished the dish will not suffer from an extra hour or so being kept warm at a low simmer.  This is a perfect seasonal dish for late fall or winter.  Serve with crusty bread to soak up the braising liquid.

Braised pastured pork chops with cabbage in onion-apple sauce

Braised pastured pork chops with cabbage in onion-apple sauce