Apple Fennel Pork Chops and Beer Braised Cabbage

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As much as I love summer, every year I cannot wait for Autumn. I’m not going to go into a long and poetic schpeel (pumpkin patches, harvest flavours, crisp weather, cozy sweaters…) but I will touch on the seaters and layering. I am known for my cardigan and sweater uniform, from around September – April I simply don’t leave the house without one or the other – Oo both when it gets really cold. I just love layering fabrics and textures for one ultimately warm and interesting look. The same can be said for food.

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Fall brings back the slow and deep flavours of roasting and braising. Not only do cooking methods change, but spices, ingredients and flavours all transition with the season. With the air being cooler, the fragrant kitchen is the warm hub that truly is the centre of it all. I love the way you can infuse robust and delicious flavours from slow and relaxed cooking.

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This humble cabbage side is the perfect simple reintroduction of fall. It’s sweet, tangy and the smokey flavour of the sausage is exactly the savoury edge it needs. This dish is great with pretty much anything, but I made apple and fennel pork chops that went unbelievably well together.

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Red Cabbage Braised with Apple, Keilbasa and Apple Cider Balsamic
Adapted From Jamie Oliver’s Cook with Jamie
Serve 4-6 generously

  • olive oil
  • 2 ” keilbasa or other smoked country sausage
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, bashed
  • 1 onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 large good eating apple, diced
  • 1/2 red cabbage, outer leaves and core removed, chopped into irregular chunks/ribbons
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 small knob butter
  • 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

1. Pour a good lug of olive oil into a saucepan, get it hot and add the keilbasa and fennel seeds.

2. Cook until golden then add the onion and continue to cook, with the lid on, for a few more minutes until golden and sticky.

3. Add the apple, followed by the cabbage chunks, salt and pepper and the vinegar, and stir everything together well.

4. Put the lid back on and continue to cook on a low heat for an hour, checking and stirring every so often. You can also do this in the oven in a heat-proof saucepan.
5. Stir in butter and parsley to finish. Serve warm.

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I don’t think you realize how much I love apples. You may not necessarily expect it based on the number of apple recipes I have – in comparison to butter or chocolate…

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Anyone that knows me well knows I eat at least 2 apples a day. This increases to at least 4 in the Autumn with the amazing orchard apples we pick. My mom makes fun of me, but every year without fail we go about 2-3 times and pick as many apples as we can carry. Besides eating them, we make crisps on a weekly basis, pies, slaws and add them to just about everything else.

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This recipe uses Orchard apples (I unfortunately didn’t pick these ones, just wait though!) and it makes such a difference. They have a sweet and juicy flavour that is complimented so well with fennel and pork – they are best friends after all. I also love how all of these flavours work so well together and are virtually interchangeable with other ingredients one would OD/celebrate on this time of year. Pork, fennel, root vegetables, beer, cider, apple, pears herbs,roasting, butter…You get the idea.

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There’s no denying you love these flavours, but I have a sneaky feeling you’d appreciate them all the more if you go to an orchard or farmer’s market to acquire your goodies. Remember fall drives? Country roads, hot cider and a day filled with small town bakeries? Celebrate this year with a day trip, take your friends, family, kids – unless of course you don’t like country roads, hot cider, a day filled with small town bakeries and from-the-tree apples.

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Beer Braised Pork Chops with Apple, Fennel and Thyme
Serves 3

  • 3 bone-in pork chops
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt + pepper
  • 1/2 fennel bulb sliced into strips
  • 1-2 apples diced into large chunks
  • 1 hard cider or amber ale
  • 1 tablespoon grainy mustard
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 350˚. Generously season pork chops with salt + pepper.

2. Sear chops about 4 minutes aside until a crust has formed. Remove from pan.

3. Add fennel and apple, sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.

4. Deglaze pan with cider or beer, scraping off bottom bits.

5. Add remaining ingredients and cook until the pork is tender, about 15-20 more minutes (depending on the size of the chops)

6. Turn chops halfway through and covering the chops with the apple mixture. Remove chops from pan and reduce sauce by half, about 10 minutes on high. If you don’t want your apples to be super soft, remove them at this point-you could even remove them before you bake the chops if you wish.

7. Add chops back to pan and serve with apple mixture.

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