This dish was actually born out of a mistake. I meant to get a boneless tender cut that I could pound into a schnitzel. Instead I ended up with a bone-in chuck chop (part of the problem with ordering food online) that would have ended up more chewy than tasty.
Chuck is a not-so-tender (though flavorful) cheap cut of meat which comes from the shoulder area. It's got a lot of connective tissue (aka collagen) so it's not great for making steaks out of. Cooked slow over low heat however and the collagen breaks down into gelatin and makes the meat delightfully melty and moist.
I love braising pork shoulder in beer so when I realized that the cut of veal I had wasn't going to work for schnitzel I rummaged through my pantry looking for beer. As it turned out, I had no beer, but I did find a few bottles of hard apple cider.
If you've never tried real cider (not the carbonated vodka, sugar, and flavoring crap), you're missing out. Warwick Valley Winery makes a line of cider's that are inexpensive, subtle and refreshing. Think of it as poor-man's champagne... in fact they even use the same yeast used to produce champagne.
With a few inexpensive ingredients and a bit of time in the oven this "mistake" ended up turning into a luxurious winter meal. Play around with the cuts of meat, try adding some different spices, but most importantly remember that when it comes to cooking, you can turn lemons into lemonade:-)
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
- Salt and pepper both sides of the chop.
- Heat a heavy bottomed oven safe pan big enough to hold both chops in 1 layer until hot then add a splash of olive oil. When you see thin wisps of smoke rising, put the chop in the pan. Don't disturb the chop until it is well browned then flip and let that side brown as well.
- Remove the chop, turn down the heat to medium and add some more oil if needed. Put the onions and apples in the pan and saute until soft and lightly caramelized.
- Pour the cider into the pan and deglaze. Add the bay leaf, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
- Return the chop along with any juices that have collected in the plate back into the pan and spoon some apples on top of the chop. Cover and stick it in the oven for around 2 hours or until the meat falls apart with a fork.
- When the meat is ready, take it out of the pan and over with foil. Bring the liquid in the pan to a boil and reduce until it gets slightly thicker.
- Spoon the sauce over the meat and serve with a wedge of lemon.