French-Style Pork Chops with Apples and Calvados
Why This Recipe Works
Pork and apples is a classic, but usually everyday, pairing. We turned to the French recipe for porc à la Normande to inspire a more elegant rendition. Using thick bone-in chops allowed us more leeway to avoid overcooking, while salting them an hour before cooking helps keep them moist. An evenly heated pan is key to a good sear on these big chops, so we heated our skillet over medium heat for a full 5 minutes before turning up the heat. Cutting the apples into attractive rings provided a bed to raise the chops off the skillet’s bottom to allow for even cooking once transferred to the oven. For a sauce with layered apple flavor, we rely on a combination of sweet cider, cider vinegar, Calvados, and a few chopped apples, which break down and help produce the right texture. Butter gives the sauce richness, while chicken broth and bacon lend a balancing savoriness. We found that flambéing the sauce is critical to creating an elegantly complex sauce, and doing it in two batches kept the job easy.