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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Cider Brined Pork Chops

Ok, so remember last week when I was riding some sort of delusional high about fall and seasons and snow and blah, blah, blah. Well this girl most definitely got her reality check today. Yesterday: Partly sunny, high of 67, late night thunderstorm. Presently: Cloudy, windchill of 12 (actually 25), snowing. And just for fun, toss in a very broken boiler. Awesome. I love winter. 
I take it back, I take it all back. 
But we all know the saying, so let's make some lemonade shall we? Bust out the blankets and robes, crank up the heat on the stove and let's bang out a cider laden feast fit for Kings. Cold Kings, like back in the day with their big cold castles. Yeah, just like that...where's the whiskey? 

Bare Naked Brined Pork Loin Chops: (Brined 8 Chops cut 1" thickish)

6-8 Pork Loin Chops, bone-in, purchased mine from my local Whole Foods 
1 bottle Crispin Cider's Bare Naked Organic Hard Apple Cider (22oz.), found
   easily at Whole Foods stores! 
10 oz. cool water 
1/4 c. Kosher salt
2 Tbsp. sugar 
1 tsp. Allspice berries, barley crushed
1 tsp. Tellicherry peppercorns, barely crushed 
2 Tbsp. olive oil 
1 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. chopped, fresh thyme and rosemary
Pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper 

1) Combine cider, water, salt and sugar in a large container and stir until most of the salt
    and sugar are dissolved. 
2) Add in the peppercorns, Allspice and pork chops, making sure the brine covers the pork. 
    Let the mixture sit for 40 min. or an hour before grilling. Remove from the brine and pat
    dry with paper towels. 
3) Make the glaze by combining the herbs with the oil, vinegar, and honey. Stir to combine.
4) You can use an indoor grill or an outdoor grill, just make sure that you have enough room 
    to cook indirectly on the grill space over medium heat. Oil the grill and sear each side of the 
    chops for 2-3 minutes. 
5) Brush the chops with the glaze on one side, turn over onto indirect heat and cook. Glaze 
    the other side, turn over and finish chops until you reach an internal temperature of 145. 
    Pull off the grill and rest 5 minutes before serving. 

A crowded grill...don't be like me. The more space the better; they still turned out great though! 

Served my chops alongside some roasted organic carrots with thyme and honey, simple greens and a parsnip and yukon gold potato mash. A great fall meal! 
This was a fantastic meal! Just what we needed to warm the house and our bodies up from the cold. My Crispin Honey Crisp cider with Bulleit Bourbon on ice didn't hurt much either...
That's all for now cider friends! I'll be hitting you up next week with my very exciting 'The Cider Kitchen' video and all the recipes I made for my first filmed Cider Dinner. See you soon! 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Mulled Cider

Bring on the fall! I for one am all about it this year. I've always really enjoyed the fall, but rarely do I enjoy thinking about what comes after...cold. Lots and lots of cold and snow and then a little more cold and snow after that. So even when I'd really like to enjoy the fall, I was always brought to a halt  thinking about my imminent doom soon thereafter. But this year, for some very welcome reason, I opened up my arms and embraced it without pause. 
This new-found joy over fall put me into a tizzy of needing to do all things fall related. One such activity resulted in this fortified-mulled-cider-in-an-apple cocktail. I rejoiced, reveled, and slipped into a happy stupor of autumnal joy. 
 Mulled Cider Cocktail:

3/4 c. (or more) Apple Cider 
Mulling spices like: Allspice (4-6), cinnamon sticks (2-3), star anise (3) or clove(4-5). You could also add a little orange or ginger if you want to get wild. 
3-6 apples, consider that you may mangle them (I know I did, and then adjust accordingly) Also, you'll want to pick large apples with good flat bottoms. 
A little lemon juice so the apples don't brown when you cut them

If you want to make the apple cups:

1) Grab an apple and cut just the top off. Rub liberally with the lemon juice to prevent browning 
    while you're working. I found a handy dandy grapefruit knife that was curved that came in 
    very handy here. I cut the core out first by simply cutting around it, be careful to not put a 
    whole in the bottom like I did on my first one!
2) Slowly start to cut your way further around where the core was until you've got most of the
    inside out but still have a good sturdy vessel for people to hold. When you're happy with your   
    artwork you're done! Ta-dah! 

If you just want the drink already:

1) Pour the Crispin cider and regular cider into a heavy bottomed pot. Add the mulling spices and   
    slowly heat over low to med-low heat until it just begins to steadily steam. 
2) After the batch starts to steam toss in the bourbon. Serve right away or put a lid on it to keep it 
    warm.  Once the cider starts to steam it is more or less losing its alcohol content, so put a lid on 
    it and keep that booze safe! 

My first failed apple cup, wa wa waaaa! 

Cheers! Here's to you and here's to me, apple loving friends we shall always be!