Pork Chops with Apple Cider Gravy

A final apple inspired recipe from our little trip to the mountains for apple picking a few weekends ago. This recipe was great, it was a Rachael Ray recipe so it was quick and easy, annnnd we were able to use the apple cider we made earlier in the day to make the gravy to top the pork chops with! Im not even lying when I say this tasted like fall! It was top notch, I definitely recommend it, and its honestly easy enough to be a quick week night meal. We served ours with mashed sweet potatoes, which just added to the level of deliciousness!

Ingredients: 

  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 bone-in pork chops, 1-inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large onions, yellow or red, thinly sliced
  • 2 Gala or Golden Delicious apples, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 cups chicken stock

Instructions:

Season chops with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, a turn of the pan, in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook pork 5 minutes on the first side until deeply golden, turn and cook 3 to 4 minutes more with a loose foil tent over the pan. Remove cooked chops to a plate and cover to keep warm.

Add another turn of the pan of olive oil, add the onions and apples. Season with salt, pepper and thyme and cook until just tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Douse with juice of a lemon and remove onions and apples to a bowl; keep warm.


Add 2 tablespoons butter to the skillet, melt then whisk in flour, cook 1 minute

then whisk in cider and 1 cup of stock. Season the gravy with salt and pepper. Thicken 4 to 5 minutes over medium-low heat.

Serve chop covered with apples and onions, gravy poured down over top.

 

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Apple Cider

Don’t worry, I didnt forget that I was going to give you all my apple recipes, I just, had lots of other blogging to do, and I didn’t want you to be all apple-d out before I was done, so I am trying to space it out for you. Plus fall just started so you have plenty of time to test these out before they are out of season! Clearly I am starting with a more traditional take on using apples. I mean fall screams apple cider, and I honestly think that homemade apple cider is 1000 times better than anything you can buy. I think one of the reasons I love it so much is the smell that inhabits your entire house when you’re making it! It just really cant be beat! This past weekend we went to Boone to visit my sister for Appalachian State’s homecoming game, because both my parents went there, and, obviously, my sister is there now.

As our tailgate contribution David and I thought we would bring a little spiked version of the apple cider we made when we came home from apple picking a week or so ago! So, heres a little double dipper for you! I will give you the recipe for the regular apple cider and then at the bottom I will give you the Emeril Lagasse Recipe we used to make our Rum Apple Cider, SO delicious! You definitely have to try it for some kind of fall cookout, bon fire, etc!

So, here is your list of ingredients for the regular apple cider (this yields about 6-8 servings):

  • 8 -10 apples (I used gala for a less tart or intense taste)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cinnamon (or 4 cinnamon sticks)
  • 4 tablespoons allspice
  • cheese cloth

Instructions: 

After you have washed all the apples, you want to cut them into quarters. Don’t peel them or remove the seeds! These provide lots of flavor, and you wouldn’t want to throw all of that away! 

 Then, in a large stock pot add your apples and fill with water–just enough to cover the apples and add your sugar on top!.


Wrap your cinnamon and allspice in a doubled up cheese cloth and tie, and add this to the apples and water.

Boil on high for one hour (uncovered) checking on it frequently, then turn down heat and let the apples simmer for two hours (covered).

Take off the heat after two hours of simmering and let cool and remove spices.

and mash up the apples to a pulp like consistency (a potato masher works well for this).

Once cool pour into a strainer over a large bowl. When most of the juice has drained away, put the remainder of the pulp into a doubled up cheese cloth and squeeze over the bowl until no more juice comes out.

We then draped cheese cloth over a regular strainer to get rid of all the extra pieces of pulp then heated up a glass and enjoyed!

You can store in an air tight container in your refrigerator for up to a week or you can freeze it for later use if you like.When you’re ready to serve it just reheat it in the microwave or on the stove and add a cute little cinnamon stick for garnish! So festive!

Like I said, David and I made the spiked cider for the tailgate. For lack of electrical outlets it became a pre-game treat, and then David and I brought the left overs home, but we weren’t complaining because it was delicious and we did all the leg work anyways! And while Rihianns milkshakes are busy brining all the boys to the yard…. David’s new panda hat was busy bringing all the AOPII’s to the tailgate… Since the panda is their mascot, Rachel’s sorority sisters were very excited to see David jokingly sporting this little gem we found at Walmart the night before the game.

Such a ladies man! Now, on to the Cider, which is what I’m sure you’re still reading this post for!!!!

To make the Rum Apple Cider, here is what you will need!

  • 1 apple
  • 2 tsp whole cloves
  • 1 orange thinly sliced
  • 2 quarts apple cider
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Allspice
  • dash of grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup of dark rum
  • Cinnamon sticks to garnish

Instructions: 

Stud the apple with the cloves.

 

Thinly slice the orange

Then, in a medium pot, combine the studded apple and remaining ingredients except the rum. Slowly bring to a simmer over low heat. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the rum. Discard the apple.

 

Ladle into mugs and garnish each with a cinnamon stick, serve, and enjoy!

An Apple A Day

An apple a day typically keeps the doctor away, but for David and I, an apple a day still wouldn’t rid us of all the apples we picked this weekend on our impromptu little trip to the mountains to go apple picking this weekend. We decided it would be fun to do something different and just get out of Charlotte for the day so early Saturday morning we headed for the hills towards Flat Rock, NC to visit Sky Top Orchards (which I heard about from one of my friends from college!) for some fun fall activities and then planned to take a little ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway afterwards and maybe stop for a mini hike or a picnic,weather permitting, however, David did not understand my sense of urgency in packing/planning ahead if we really wanted to stop somewhere and eat lunch…. but more on that later. So, like I said, we got up at like 7 to get ready and planned to leave by 8. At ten to 8 David was still lounging around and hadn’t showered so needless to say by the time he got ready, we got gas, and got on the road, we could have just slept an extra hour or two and left at a normal time.  But I do loving driving to the mountains, for a few different reasons, one, the scenery is awesome!
I love the slight twisting and turning of the roads on the interstates and main highways through the mountains, unlike the actual mountain roads where I feel as though I could plummet to my death at any moment, especially with David’s love of hugging tightly to the curves in his mini, as if we are in some kind of get away car in an action pic. Terrifying is potentially an understatement. But the second reason I LOVE driving to the mountains is passing through small towns with oddities such as this one:
yep, thats the community communicator, I mean I know most small towns have little hometown newspapers or something like that, but for some reason the idea posting the news and events of your town on a billboard is strange to me… and mostly I like that it is called the “Community Communicator” its quite the alliteration for such a small town. Anywho after an entertaining and lengthy drive through the mountains We finally arrived at our destination and were ready for a fun afternoon of apple picking!

Much to our dismay the dismal weather did not drive out the multitude of visitors so it was quite a challenge just to find somewhere to park, mostly because this orchard perched on top of this mountain had no parking, we just pulled off on the side of the road with all the other cars and hoped for the best. And then hiked back up the hill to get a basket and a map and develop the best plan of attack to avoid the masses of people with small children and wagons in tow. Although it really was perfect weather, it wasn’t hot and sweltering, with the sun beating down on you and it didn’t rain so there was a nice breeze and everything looked lush, green, and ripe for the pickin! 

Once we battled the masses to grab the aforementioned basket and map we hit the old dusty trail in hunt of the 3 types of apples that were actually ready for picking, which were Fuji, Red Delicious, and Golden Delicious. Things started out a little slow, and at first I was thinking it would be impossible to fill this twenty pound basket with delicious fall fruit….

as we wandered the rows and rows of apple trees we were finding that the easily accessible lower fruits had been picked and the only way to get the remaining good fruit was the climb the trees or be really tall, cue David’s over involvement in this activity.

I tried my hand and getting the apples from the tops of the trees, but my stature didn’t help me too much. Although later in the trip we got a little smarter and found that parents weren’t as willing to drag that ginormous wagons, all their kids, and their apples to the backs of the rows or to the rows further away from the main gate, so we lucked out in finding lots of red delicious apples in the outlying rows, so tips for all you people hoping to hit up the orchards later in the season, if you don’t want to climb a tree, then hike to the back, your efforts will be graciously rewarded!!!

Like I said, once we got to the lower hanging red apples things really turned around for us and David and I were even willing to stop and pose for pictures with our harvest, because we were doing less struggling to pick them!
David made sure to shine his up nice and pretty for you guys! So you would be impressed with his efforts, at first I thought he was shining it up and was going to eat the apple fresh off the tree, then he promptly informed me of his less than favorable taste for apples (ooops!) and his potential concern for what we planned to do with all of them, however I think I made an apple lover out of him this past weekend (he didn’t have much choice!)

Clearly not making the effort that David did, I was an underachiever and just posed with my apple still attached to the tree, I like to think of it as an action shot, so it looks like I put forth some type of effort in the excursion, because to the uninformed spectator it looked like David was doing most of the work, battling the branches to get the high ones, reading the map, annnndddd…. carrying the full basket,

a true testament of his strength and patience with me as I frolicked through the orchard trying to capture all the perfect pictures to share with you guys! Like the ones of these cute little apple signs, used to mark the rows! 

I do love a good theme, and everything at this place screamed apples! Apple cider, apple butter, apple signs, apple chips, candied apples, caramel apples, APPLE EVERYTHING. Once we hiked from the back of the orchard back to the main hut, it was time to bag up our produce and have it weighed and foot the bill for our little adventure! I mean, we did get quite the heaping pile of apples, and I was happy to pose with them, for a short moment before feeling like I was going to dump the whole basket on the ground.
I clearly need to get the the gym and pump some iron so David won’t have to do all the heavy lifting next time! So, like I said, we sorted the apples and had them weighed, we managed to score roughly 20lbs of apples for $18. It was awesome! AND, in case your wondering what 20lbs is in numbers of apples, its about 40-50, we had to count for recipe purposes when trying to figure out exactly WHAT we were going to do with all our apples!

If you’re looking for a fun fall activity for the family or something different to do with your friends, I definitely recommend finding a local orchard and taking advantage of nice fall weather and fresh decloiusness to really get you in the mood for the new season! I just love fall! And I definitely recommend sky top if you are in upstate SC, or in the Asheville/Henderson,NC area. David and I really enjoyed it and are already hoping to go back next year to get TONS more apples so we can make lots of delicious fall treats. If you are wondering what we did with all the apples, stay tuned I have a few recipes to share with you and some other fun fall ideas so that your hard work doesn’t go to waste! Also, stay tuned tomorrow for more on our adventure on the Parkway!