Today we celebrate the apple, that sweet, tart and firm-fleshed fruit of autumn. Fragrant like its cousin the rose, the apple blushes but isn't a pushover.
Alas, all I can think about these days is the rabbit in plum sauce I recently made. The interaction of fruit and flesh fosters a mutual unlocking of flavor, as the acid and fat blend together, the meat and fruit get soft and fall apart.
"That's it," I realized. "I'll make rabbit in apple sauce!"
"No," I flip-flopped. "That's not quite right. Maybe lamb chops and applesauce? No."
I called Bosco, a farmer I know who specializes in pigs and apples. He told me to come over. When I got there, Bosco was carrying a fried pork chop across his kitchen skewered on a knife.
Upon the pork chops we spooned apricot sauce spiced with freshly dug horseradish and a barbecue sauce built on a base of tomato and apple cider syrup. It was pure ooh la la. Bosco wrote the sauce recipes for me on the back of a pig-butchering diagram and although pleasantly sated for the moment, I didn't lose sight of my pork chops and apple sauce. We strolled into his orchard to collect some bright red Macintosh apples, which dangled like rubies from the trees.
In an enclosed section of the orchard, Bosco's pigs have made themselves at home. Bosco hopped the high-voltage fence and mingled with the swine, a man and his pigs. They followed him around affectionately as he scratched ears and tossed apples.
I related a story about a commercial pig farmer falling into his pig pen and never coming out. "Put you ass-to-nose with 600 pigs on a concrete floor and watch how your disposition changes," said Bosco. "See whose ass you want to kick."
"Those industrial pigs grow to 250 pounds in six months on a diet full of hormones and antibiotics. They have no muscle tone, lots of fat. I look at commercial bacon and I can't believe it. It's all fat. People pay $3 or $4 a pound for fat. You don't want to eat fat ..."
I cleared my throat and straightened my stance.
"Well, maybe you do, Chef Boy Ari, but most normal people don't."
I took home some of Bosco's pork chops and apples and adapted my aforementioned rabbit/plum dish as follows:
Season the chops and with salt and pepper and dredge them in breadcrumbs. Fry slowly in butter in a cast-iron skillet.
Use at least three apples per chop. I have a spinning peeler/corer thingie that turns an apple into a naked Slinky. Bosco uses a push-down corer that makes several slices. You can also use a knife, peeling the skin if you like.
Add the cut apples to the pork chops in the hot pan. Mix together on low-medium heat, adding eight whole cloves of garlic and 1/2 cup of chicken stock per chop. Put a lid on the skillet and bake for an hour at 375°. If it starts to dry, add water. Some potatoes added to the pan before baking will absorb the flavor beautifully.
Pig yourself out!