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Dinner Rush! Pork Chops With Warm Fennel-Apple Slaw

Isn’t fall just the best? In New York, anyway, the dappled landscape of red and orange leaves and the ever-present smell of apple cider doughnuts frying in vats of oil so dark and overused you can’t see through it just screams: “Feed me something delicious and hearty! And put on a sweater! Now!”

At my dinner table, the flavors of fall usually revolve around some combination of pork, fennel and apples — a serendipitous trifecta of flavor that has brought us together here today over this digital screen. It’s a combination that I find simple to prepare and a consistently delicious hit, even with a quick preparation like this one.

I like to use a bone-in chop for a recipe like this, which sits at the intersection where traditional peppers and onions meet a vinegary-mustardy slaw. The bone-in cut just looks better and is usually a better buy in the grocery store, as it costs less per pound. The quick cook time on the vegetables keeps their crunch intact and makes for a satisfying (and expedient) dinner that is great on its own or bolstered up with some instant polenta or roasted potatoes.

Give it a try and celebrate as you enjoy your inaugural meal of the best season of the year.

Pork Chops With Warm Fennel-Apple Slaw

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 (6- to 8-ounce) bone-in pork chops (about 3/4 inch thick)
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 small bulb fennel, bulb and stalks thinly sliced, fronds roughly chopped, divided
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon whiskey, optional
1 firm apple (such as Granny Smith or Mutsu), grated

Place a large skillet over medium-high heat with the olive oil. Season the pork chops liberally with salt and pepper, then sear in the pan until deep golden brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Remove the chops to a plate and let them rest.

Return the same skillet to medium heat and add in the fennel, onion and caraway seeds. Saute, stirring frequently, until the vegetables begin to tenderize, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the mustard, vinegar and whiskey (if using) and continue cooking until the liquids have mostly reduced, 3 to 4 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat, then stir in the grated apple and reserved fennel fronds; adjust the seasoning as needed with salt and pepper.

Serve the pork chops over the warm fennel-apple slaw.

NOTE: Grating the apple is a great way to save time when preparing this dish, especially since we’’re looking more for the flavor than the texture. Run it over the large holes of a box grater or through a food processor fitted with a grater attachment, just be careful not to do it more than a few minutes before adding it to the pan, as the cut apple will begin to turn brown.

More Quick and Easy Dinner Recipes

Patrick W. Decker’s life revolves around food. Always has, probably always will. As a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and past member of the culinary team for Food Network stars like Rachael Ray, Sandra Lee and Paula Deen, he now works as a food stylist and producer in NYC by day, and a food writer and recipe developer at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley by night. You can see what he’s up to by following his latest Tweets on Twitter at @patrickwdecker or visiting his website at patrickwdecker.com.

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