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a time to braise

As promised, I’m sharing recipes from our Sunday supper this week. Braising is one of my favorite winter cooking methods, especially where onions and big chunks of meat are concerned. I’m even more slow moving than usual at this time of year, so it’s only right that my cooking is also low and slow too. Our dinner consisted of two dishes, brined and braised pork chops with apples and onion, inspired by Alton Brown and Cooking Light magazine, and braised sweet and sour red cabbage, inspired–as so many of my dishes are–by Jacques Pepin. I love Aunt Nellie’s jarred cabbage, and after some tweaking this recipe of M. Pepin’s managed to beat Aunt Nellie’s.
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brined & braised pork chops with apple and onion
serves 2  

2 thick-cut bone-in pork chops
salt and pepper
1 tsp. bacon fat (butter is fine)
1 tsp. olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 apples (Granny Smith if possible), peeled, cored, and chunked
1 c. chicken stock

1/3 c. kosher salt
1/3 c. light brown sugar
handful of black peppercorns
1 tsp. ground mustard or mustard seeds
1 c. apple cider vinegar
1 c. ice

Heat apple cider vinegar in the microwave for 2 minutes until hot. Add vinegar, salt, sugar, pepper, and mustard to a 8×8″ glass baking dish and stir until dissolved. Let sit for at least twenty minutes or until cooled. Add ice and pork chops, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

Heat bacon fat and oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Pat pork chops dry and season with salt and pepper (light on the salt). Add to hot pot and brown on both sides, 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove and set aside. Add onions and cook for 3 minutes until translucent; add apples and chicken stock and stir to remove brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Return the pork and reduce heat to medium-low. Braise in liquid for 15-20 minutes until tender.

sweet and sour red cabbage
serves 4

1 small (about 1 lb.) red cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
1 small onion (about a cup), thinly sliced
handful of raisins (optional)
1 small apple (Granny Smith if possible), peeled, cored, and cut in matchsticks
3/4 c. apple cider (or water and 1/4 tsp. allspice)
1/4 c. water
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. oil
1 tsp. butter

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce to medium-low, and braise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. The cabbage should be soft but have a bite still. Even with a small amount of pepper, the spicy note comes through.

Editor’s note: This post is a part of Real Food Wednesday, Fight Back Friday, Sunday School, and Monday Mania