In Mexico, sparkling apple cider (sidra), frequently from Zacatlán, in the Mexican state of Puebla, is traditionally the designated drink for the New Year’s toast (photo below, left). My husband and I decided to have some local apple cider bubbly for ours (photo below, right):
Since no one could galavant this year, due to the pandemic, we ended up with some extra cans of cider, and I decided to use some in the kitchen. There are several recipes that call for apple cider, such as the very well-known apple cider donuts (do not balk at using hard apple cider instead of fresh; the bubbles will impart extra lightness to the crumb). Apple cider is also excellent in a reduction for fish or pork, as in the recipe I am sharing in this post.
This recipe also uses fresh apple slices. Some of the apple varieties cultivated in Zacatlán are King Royal, Criolla and Panochera (photo below, left), which is the best for cooking, with an assured result for a firm and flavourful bite. In Canada, there is a large selection of imported and local apple cultivars; Honeycrisp (photo below, right) is a juicy and crunchy apple, originally from Minnesota, USA; it cooks well, without becoming mushy:
For a quick dinner, I used the Mexican favourite of chuletas ahumadas – smoked pork chops; if not available, thick slices of cooked ham, or even Canadian back bacon, will work well. The ingredients below are for a single portion, but of course they may be increased; accordingly, the photos show a single pork chop, but a larger frying pan may be used to cook more portions at a time.
Smoked Pork Chop in Apple Cider Reduction –
Chuleta ahumada de puerco en reducción de sidra
Ingredients (per portion)
1 tsp oil
1 large smoked pork chop (or 1 thick slice of cooked ham)
1 apple (a variety that will not become mushy, such as Honeycrisp or Golden Delicious); washed
½ cup hard apple cider (sparkling)
Pinch black pepper, preferably freshly grated
Warm up oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat; add pork chop (photo below, left). Cook for a few minutes until browned, then flip and brown the other side (photo below, right):
While the meat is cooking, peel apple and slice into circles by cutting perpendicularly to the stem direction. Remove core from each slice (I used a mini cookie cutter). Transfer browned meat to a plate; cover and reserve. Add just enough of the apple cider to the pan to deglaze, about two tablespoons (photo below, left). Add apple slices; cook for a couple of minutes, flipping to brown on both sides (photo below, right):
Transfer browned apples to the plate with the meat (photo below, left), cover the plate again and reserve. Add the rest of the apple cider to the pan, to deglaze a second time (photo below, right):
Add black pepper and nutmeg (photo below, left); stir in, then return pork chop and apple slices to the pan, and cover (photo below, right):
Reduce heat to medium, and cook for five minutes. Transfer pork chop to a serving plate, and arrange apple slices on top. Finish sauce in the pan by increasing the heat, and stirring (photo below, left), to reduce the liquid to a slightly caramelized point; do not remiss to cook long enough, until the bottom of the pan remains visible for a while when scraped with a spatula (photo below, right):
Drizzle reduction on top of the pork chop and apples; serve with a side of steamed vegetables, such as broccoli or green beans:
The smoked pork chop was crispy on the outside and very juicy inside, and fully flavoured with the apple reduction and cooked slices:
I am sharing my recipe at Thursday Favourite Things #471, with Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn, Pam @ An Artful Mom, Katherine @ Katherine’s Corner, Amber @ Follow the Yellow Brick Home, Theresa @ Shoestring Elegance and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode.
I am also bringing my recipe to Over the Moon #259, graciously hosted by Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn, and Marilyn @ Marilyn’s Treats. Special thanks to Marilyn for featuring my Veggie Merry Holiday Menu at her party.