Once the chops are good and marinaded, mix together the magic spices. Mix 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp garlic powder, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Take the chops out of the marinade, and give both sides a good sprinkle with the spices, and rub them in good.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of maple syrup in a large, oven-safe skillet.
Add the sweet potato, onion, pears, and apple to the skillet. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp cinnamon. (I might have used more cinnamon than that.)
The instructions say to saute for 35 minutes, until the sweet potato is soft and the mixture is caramelized. I don’t remember much about cooking class, but I was pretty sure that “saute” didn’t include “overfill the skillet and heat for a while.” And I thought that things might not heat too evenly with the skillet so full. So I put a cover on for about 10 minutes. Don’t do that. The sweet potatoes got soft very quickly and started to fall apart. So did the apples. Surprisingly, the pears kept their texture very nicely.
So. “Saute” – uncovered – over medium heat for about 35 minutes, until all the fruits and veggies are soft, and it smells positively delicious.
If things get a little too dry during the cooking, add some more apple juice. Or apple fruit punch blend. Whichever you happen to have on hand.
Add the pork chops to the skillet, and cover (as best as you can) with the fruit/veggie mixture. NOW put on a cover (do not do this earlier, please, I beg of you!) and bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 35 minutes, or until chops are cooked through.
Everything was great! The sweet potato fell apart – next time I will slice them thicker, and not cover the skillet during the first part of cooing. The apple kind of fell apart, too, so a little thicker slices for that, I think.
And did you know? The USDA lowered the internal cooking temperature for pork to 145 degrees (with a 3 minute rest after it comes off the heat)? I didn’t check mine until after 35 minutes was up on the timer, and the internal temp was way higher than that, and the chops were just a teensy bit dry. I would recommend checking the temperature of your chops after about 20 minutes in the oven, and monitor them after that.
This will definitely be on our table again this fall!
But I do not think I will be firing the oven back up to 400 degrees until after this heat wave breaks!!
Special thanks to Gooseberry Patch for providing me with this great cookbook to try and share with you. If you would like to purchase this or other cookbooks, please visit their store. If you would like to see other great recipes, check out www.realfarmwivesofamerica.com.