Every fall I buy a bottle of Applejack as my way of welcoming in the season. Last weekend I not only bought the requisite bottle of booze, somehow I also ended up buying three half-gallon containers of different apple ciders. I just couldn’t help myself. Every store I went to seemed to have cider for sale and I am (clearly) incapable of refusing it. Even though I knew I had a full gallon waiting at home, I still bought a final jug as a reward for surviving the Haunted Corn Maze on Saturday night.
Side note: If you want to know what type of person you are deep inside, go through a Haunted Corn Maze in the dark. I discovered I am the type of person who will sacrifice their friends in order to get away from the guy with a chain saw. I’m not proud of that, but it’s the truth.
At any rate, a fridge full of cider is never a bad thing. In fact it allowed me to make this beautiful dish which was a delicious way to fully embrace autumn’s arrival. Since cider is unavoidable this time of year, it only seems right to also use it in a brine.
This particular recipe is the October cover recipe for Bon Appetite and I’ve been staring at it for a few weeks waiting for a good night to make it. Maybe all that cider was getting to me — I just couldn’t hold out any longer.
I started by making the brine on Saturday afternoon and let the pork roast sit in it for a full 24 hours soaking up the salty, sugary cidery goodness. Sunday evening, I dried it off, tied it up and seared it. Once it was nice and brown, I pinned some bay leaves to its top and snuggled it into a roasting pan filled with potatoes and a few halved onions.
I didn’t make any changes to the recipe except that my roast was a wee bit smaller than called for, somewhere around 3 pounds. If I had thought about it more, I would have cut my onions into quarters, but instead I just kept them in the oven while the roast rested and that worked just fine. Oh I did use red fingerling potatoes instead of Yukon golds because that happened to be the hill I dug up. (Woo-hoo for urban gardens!)
Thirty minutes later I was greeted with this:
Honestly, it’d be hard to find an easier elegant dinner. The brining does most of the heavy lifting — the meat is juicy and well seasoned with a delicate apple flavor that isn’t at all overwhelming. It’s just enough to hint at the classic combination of pork chops and applesauce.
The vegetables are great too. The onions are roasted until they are tender and sweet, while the potatoes absorb the pan juices from the meat and yet still end up with a nice crispy outside. It’s like a perfect symphony and the only work you have to do is carve the meat.