Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sous Vide Pork Chops with Apple-Ginger Relish

There's nothing better than hitting up the farmers market and returning home with an armload of great product.

This week, I was lucky enough to procure milk-fed heritage pork chops from Healthy Family Farms, my local CSA. Their pork is so delicate and flavorful that doing anything other than cooking it sous vide felt like a crime. Enter my trusty Sous Vide Supreme and Vacuum Sealer (this is the must have holiday gift for any serious cook). Previously a technique limited to high end restaurants due to the exponential cost of immersion circulators and gastrovacs (though some brave home cooks have jerry-rigged their own devices), with the advent of the Sous Vide Supreme, home cooks can now rejoice and sous vide to their heart's delight.

Vacuum-Sealed Pork Chop with Bacon Fat
To cook the pork, I first cut out the bones to make them boneless pork chops (the bones are in my freezer, soon to be used to make stock). Then, I set my Sous Vide Supreme to 140 degrees. Meanwhile, I rubbed the meat with garlic powder, dried sage, dried thyme, salt and pepper. The final ingredient? A little rendered bacon fat that I'd squirreled away from Nueske's Applewood Smoked Bacon from the first installment of Zingerman's Bacon of the Month Club.

Given the beautiful apples that are in season right now, I decided to make an Apple-Ginger Relish to serve with the pork chops. The dish turned out fabulous -- it tasted like the epitome of the season -- hearty, succulent, tangy, sweet. I served my Sous Vide Pork Chops with Apple-Ginger Relish over fresh shell beans (simmered in water with a bay leaf and olive oil) tossed with a little sauteed baby kale, however just about any whole grain or bean concoction would work great with this dish.

I loved this dish so much, I can't wait to make it again!

Sous Vide Pork Chops with Apple-Ginger Relish
Serves 2 people
Prep time: 15 minutes; Sous Vide Cooking Time: 2.5 hours
Print Recipe  

2 boneless pork chops (1 inch thick)
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons rendered bacon fat, cooled in the refrigerator until solid (this will allow you to vacuum seal the bags -- liquid is sucked out)
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil (for searing)

apple-ginger relish
1 Granny Smith apple, diced (I leave the skin on, but you can remove it)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup chicken stock
salt and pepper

Fill the Sous Vide Supreme with water and preheat to 140 degrees.

Meanwhile, rub the pork chops with the sage, thyme, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Place each pork chop into a separate plastic bag with 1 teaspoon of the bacon fat. Vacuum seal both bags.

Once the Sous Vide Supreme has reached 140 degrees (hint -- filling it up with hot water will help it heat up faster), place the pork chop bags into the water bath making sure that the meat is submerged and that the bags are not touching each other. Cook in the Sous Vide Supreme for two and a half hours (for one inch thick -- longer cooking time is needed for thicker cuts of meat -- see the temperature chart that comes with the Sous Vide Supreme).

Pork Chops Fresh Out of Sous Vide Supreme
When two and a half hours have passed, remove the pork chop bags from the Sous Vide Supreme and cut open them open to remove the pork chops. In a saute pan, heat the grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. Quickly, sear the pork chops on both sides until nicely caramelized (about 1 minute per side). Remove from the pan and allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

Meanwhile, make the apple-ginger relish in the same pan where you seared the pork chops. Pour out all but 1 tablespoon of fat. Heat the pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for 1 minute. Add the apples and saute until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the apple cider vinegar and cook for 1 more minute. Then, add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer, deglazing the pan with a wooden spoon. Simmer for a few minutes, or until reduced in half.

Sous Vide Pork Chops with Apple-Ginger Relish
To plate, slice the pork chops and lay out on a plate. Spoon the apple-ginger relish on top of the slices. Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients
milk-fed pork chops (Healthy Family Farms), organic garlic, and ginger from the Hollywood Farmers Market

organic Granny Smith apples from West Hollywood Farmers Market

organic apple cider vinegar, organic chicken broth, and grapeseed oil from Trader Joe's

organic dried sage, organic dried thyme, and organic garlic powder from Whole Foods

rendered bacon fat from Nueske's Applewood Smoked Bacon (received as part of Zingerman's Bacon of the Month Club)

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