Pork Chops and Applesauce

There are some foods that I'm mildly embarrassed to admit I didn't appreciate until i was in my later 20s. Beets, for one. Brussels sprouts. Good tomatoes. And applesauce.

"Applesauce?" You might ask? "Doesn't every kid love applesauce?"

No. No, they don;t. Some kids hate the gritty, flavorless mush that passes for commercial applesauce. But then I had homemade applesauce. And like so many yummy foods that are not well-represented by their commercial versions, homemade applesauce? Is a whole nother thing.

Commercial applesauce is a waste reducer. All the apples deemed unworthy of your grocer's produce bins are made into applesauce. And that's why it's mealy, flavorless, watery mush that just doesn't do justice to the beautiful fruit from which it's made.

Homemade applesauce tastes like lovely ripe apples. It's smoother in texture and richer in color. It's perfect alongside pork chops (you can be DAMN sure Alice made hers from scratch). And how about topped with some toasted pecans and maybe, just maybe, a splash of brown butter? Sounds like an ideal fall meal to me.

Pork Chops and Homemade Applesauce

For 2

4 apples (I like Fuji, Gala, and Pink Lady apples best), cored and
chopped into 1-inch cubes (I don't peel mine, but you can if you want)
1/4 cup orange juice
Cardamom, to taste
Cayenne, to taste
Salt, to taste

Oil or clarified butter
2 thick pork chops
Salt and pepper
Thyme, to taste

2 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted

Heat the oven to 400.

In a medium saucepan, combine the apples and orange juice. Add water just to the top of the apples. Stir in spices and heat over medium-high heat until the water boils, then reduce the heat and simmer until the apples are soft but not falling apart, about 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, in an ovenproof saute pan, brown the pork chops on both sides, then place in te oven to finish cooking, about 10 minutes.

Drain most of the liquid from the apples, then with a potato masher or immersion blender, mash the apples until they are mostly crushed. Don't go crazy--it won't be perfectly smooth, and a little apple-y texture is nice.

In a small saucepan or skillet, heat the butter until the solids have turned golden brown and the butter smells nutty. Remove from the heat immediately.

To plate, spoon a pile of applesauce at 12 o'clock on each plate. Remove the pork chops from the oven and rest the top edge of each one on the applesauce, but not completely covering it.

Drizzle brown butter over the plate and top with pecans.

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