Braised Pork with Apple, Carrot, and Onion

Spicy, tomato-y, and yummy. I made this dish with a pork tenderloin that had been in the freezer too long, but it would also be great with pork chops. I served the meat and sauce over spaghetti squash with a side of broccoli florets.

This dish is also very easy to make but not quick to cook, because it requires braising—a cooking method that requires low heat and long, moist bakes. Out of curiosity, I googled “braise” to learn why this method makes meat so tender.

According to The Reluctant Gourmet, the braising “process breaks down the tough connective tissue in meat to collagen. Through time, the moisture and heat build and the collagen dissolves into gelatin. Heat also contracts and coils the muscle fibers. Over time, these fibers expel moisture and the meat becomes dry. Given even more time, these fibers relax and absorb the melted fat and melted gelatin.”

The result is that the meat, no matter how cheap the cut, becomes tender, moist, and tasty.

Now, theoretically, the meat should be seared in oil before the baking, but I confess to skipping this part because of the oil. Does it make a difference? I haven’t a clue. Maybe someone out there has an answer?

Printer-friendly recipe

Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. tenderloin or 4-6 pork chops
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup brown sugar (Note to weight watchers: You could use 100% artificial sweetener, but I used Splenda’s Brown Sugar Blend for flavour.)
  • 1 6-oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground allspice
  • 6 tsps. garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced or thinly sliced (1 cup)
  • 1 apple, unpeeled and sliced
  • 1 cup carrots, sliced (I used halved baby carrots, but they were a little too crunchy after baking so I think slices would be thinner and cook better.)
Directions
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together vinegar, sugar, tomato paste, and spices. (It should be thick.)
  2. To make a foil packet have 2 long pieces of foil. (If you’re not sure how to make a foil packet, see video below.)
  3. Lay one piece of foil on the other so that you have a double layer. (I usually have it dull side inside, but have no idea which side is better.)
  4. Place meat in the centre of the foil. (I cut the tenderloin in half and placed the halves side by side.)
  5. Brush ½ the sauce over the meat.
  6. Pile the onions, carrot, and apple on top of and around the meat.
  7. Brush on the remaining sauce.
  8. Make a foil packet around the ingredients, sealing the top and sides.
  9. Place the packet inside a stick-free shallow pan in case of leakage, which is likely although the double wrap will help.
  10. Bake in 250° F oven for 2-2½ hours until a thermometer inserted into the meat reads 160°.
  11. Remove meat and other ingredients from the packet. Slice meat as preferred.

For Weight Watchers: The total point-value of the dish is 8 points for the tomato paste, 4 points for the sugar if you use the Splenda blend or 0 points if you use 100% artificial sweetener, and the amount of meat depending on the size of your serving.

(Adapted from “Braised Pork Chops” at the ClareCooks blog.)

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