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Marinate Your Pork Chops In Apple Juice For A Huge Flavor Upgrade

Jug of apple juice and apples
Jug of apple juice and apples - Carlosgaw/Getty Images

As possibly one of humanity's oldest flavor combinations, pork and apple sauce can be traced back to the first century A.D. There's some speculation about very logical reasons for this, like the fact that traditionally, pigs would graze in apple orchards, therefore making the flavor inherent in the meat itself. A more practical consideration is timing: Pork tends to be more in demand later in the year (particularly into the holiday season), around the time apples are ripening. There's also the fact that it's just plain delicious. Pork, which can be rich and salty, finds balance with dry, sweet apples.

But the partnership of this meat and fruit doesn't have to be limited to the moment the meal is served. Apples can play a significant role in enhancing your pork long before it hits the plate. The next time you prepare a marinade for your pork chops, grab a carton of apple juice. Incorporating this delicious and nostalgic drink will not only help make your pork tender, but also give it a major flavor boost, and a fresh perspective on the pork and apple pairing.

Read more: The Unexpected Meat You Need To Avoid Grilling At All Costs

Why It Works

Pork chops marinating on plate
Pork chops marinating on plate - smspsy/Shutterstock

Marinades have certain elements designed to make foods more flavorful, but they're also functional in other ways. Most of the time, they feature oil, salt, seasonings, and a type of acid (often vinegar). Each component has a role to play, and in the case of acid, it's largely about texture. Lower pH (i.e. more acidic) liquids do two things: First, they help tenderize the meat by breaking down tissue. This is particularly useful for notoriously tough cuts, and why they're used so frequently for those lower priced options at the butcher shop. Second, acids denature the proteins in meat, meaning that they help loosen the structure of those proteins. That freer composition allows for the flavors of your marinade to make their way into the meat, infusing it with those tasty elements on a deeper level.

Apple juice, which typically has a pH in the 3 to 4 range, is an ideal liquid for marinade. That, along with the classic pairing of pork and apples makes it the perfect star ingredient in your pork chop marinade. With this combo, you have a surefire way to make your meat both tender and delicious.

Pairing Your Apple Marinated Pork

Cooked pork chops on plate
Cooked pork chops on plate - from my point of view/Shutterstock

Once you've marinated your pork chops, you can find so many ways to enjoy them. Whether you're simply searing them in a cast iron pan, grilling them on the barbecue, slow-cooking, or even air-frying, your apple-spiked chops are a great starting point for a flavor-packed meal.

You can add a dry rub and compound butter with Worcestershire and thyme that complement the flavor of the apple juice. Other herbs, like sage and rosemary, pair well with both components, and a little kick never hurts in the form of a spice like cayenne. Sweetness is a welcome element here, too, with maple, brown sugar, and honey all happy additions to the pork and apple combination.

Serve your apple juice marinated pork chops with sides that will enhance the whole dish, too, like onion garlic breadroasted gingered sweet potatoes, and Brussels sprouts. You can experiment freely, knowing that the focal point of your dinner is already destined for huge flavor.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.