As excited as I was by the arrival of my Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, I immediately handed it over to Abby. “Pick what looks good,” I told her. The book was written by Deb Perelman, grande dame of food bloggers, Olympian baker, DALS honorary guest, and shutterbug extraordinaire. This last part of her bio was crucial for me. If I’ve learned anything from this whole cooking-for-kids thing, it’s that the easiest way to convince someone under four feet tall that something is delicious is to show them a photograph of that something looking delicious. And when there are pages and pages of photographs showing things like Tomato Shortcakes with Whipped Goat Cheese and Balsamic and Beer-braised Short Ribs with Parsnip Puree and Apple Cider Caramels? Well, I know I’ve hit the jackpot. Almost an hour after giving Abby the book — an hour filled with ohmygodMOMs and wows — she handed it back to me the way you see above. It shouldn’t have come as too much of a surprise that the pages she tagged were Gooey Cinnamon Squares and Chocolate Raspberry Rugelach and Peach Dumplings With Bourbon and Hard Sauce and Deepest Dish Apple Pie. Perelman’s famous for her baked goods, each one of which just feels definitive — either the only one you’ll ever need or the only one that actually exists in the world (Buttered Popcorn Cookies!). Her recipes are not always easy, but they deliver in a big showstopping way, which is why she’s my go-to for holiday entertaining. As she says in the introduction, “I don’t really care if a meal is going to take more than thirty minutes to cook or if I’ll have to chop three different vegetables. All I need to know is that a soup that may take a little longer and may be a little more involved will actually taste better than what I’m used to.”
Of all recipes tagged with Abby’s post-its, naturally, I honed in on what looks the most manageable for a weeknight dinner. It’s pork, it’s apples, and you know it’s going to be good. Deb was nice enough to let us run it below.
PS: I’m giving away one free copy of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook to a commenter selected at random. Winner announced Thursday morning (and must live in the 48 contiguous states). Good luck!
Update: Megan (#26) is the lucky winner. Thanks everyone and look out for some more giveaways as we head into the holidays.
Pork Chops with Cider, Horseradish, and Dill
From The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, by Deb Perelman
Serves 2 to 4
1/2 cup (120 ml) cider vinegar
1/2 cup (120 ml) hard or pressed apple cider
2 tablespoons (30 grams) freshly grated horseradish
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
4 bone-in loin pork chops, 1/2 inch thick (1 1/2 pounds/680 grams total), room temperature
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
Whisk the glaze ingredients together in a small dish, and set aside.
Trim any excess fat around chops until it is but a thin ribbon, no more than 1/8 inch thick. Pat chops dry with a paper towel, and generously season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a heavy 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until the oil starts to smoke. Add the pork chops to the skillet, and cook them until they are well browned, about 3 minutes. Turn the chops, and cook 1 minute longer; then transfer chops to a plate and pour off any fat in skillet.
Pour glaze mixture into the emptied skillet. Bring it to a simmer, and cook until mixture thickens enough so your spatula leaves a trail when scraped across the pan, about 2 to 4 minutes. Return the chops and any accumulated juices from their plate to skillet; turn to coat both sides with glaze. Cook them over medium heat in the glaze until the center of the chops registers 140°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 5 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste. Transfer the chops to a serving platter and pour the glaze from the pan over them. Sprinkle with dill, and eat immediately.
Pork chop photo by Deb Perelman.