Elevated Pork Chops and Fennel Applesauce

Elevated Pork Chops and Fennel Applesauce
Elevated Pork Chops and Fennel Applesauce

This recipe is a great way to enhance an American classic and add an interesting and delicious touch to pork chops and applesauce! The apples are combined with fennel and celery to give this applesauce just enough of a different (and pretty amazing) quality without turning it into something that isn’t “applesauce.” We know you are going to love this elevated version of Elevated Pork Chops and Fennel Applesauce!

Homemade Fennel Applesauce

Applesauce always seems like a childhood favorite that doesn’t make its way into the adult world, unless of course you have small children. But why should the kids have all the fun??? This version with fennel and celery takes applesauce to an elevated flavor profile that is perfect alone or paired with pork chops like in this recipe.

Fennel and celery pair so well with apples, and both veggies have underrated flavor profiles. We like using sweet apples with just a bit of additional added sugar to maintain the traditional sweetness of applesauce. But this version is still a perfect pairing with a savory pork chop.

Why brine the pork chops??

For the pork chops, there are two key steps in this recipe: brining and cooking. You may have wondered why brining matters in a recipe, especially because it adds additional time to the prep.

The brining will keep your pork juicy when cooked and is a well-known trick to making sure proteins that are prone to drying out don’t!

Depending on the cooking method, pork, turkey, and chicken are great brining candidates.

Brined breaded pork chops with fennel applesauce and mashed potatoes
Brining the pork chops keeps the pork nice and juicy!

How long do I brine the pork chops?

This can be easily accomplished the night before you plan to cook this recipe and refrigerated overnight until you are ready to cook. You can also do this in the morning before you head off to work, but the pork chops need at least 6 hours in the brining liquid. An overnight brine will give you the best results.

Breading and Cooking the Pork Chops

The other important step is the breading. Anytime you bread pork chops, you need to be careful that the breading doesn’t shed off the meat. This version is quite delicate due to the mustard rub, but if you’re gentle, it will work well, and the flavor will have your eyes open as wide as saucers!

The cook on the pork is important, and the only way to ensure the perfect doneness is with a thermometer. Your oven and pork thickness will vary, so there is not a magic “time” they should stay in the oven. Furthermore, the crusting and quick fry beforehand will shorten the baking time by a couple of minutes. We recommend checking the temp on the pork chops around 13 minutes in the oven, and generally these will take 15-20 minutes to reach an internal temp of 143°F (then let the chops rest for a few minutes and you are at perfection!).

What Sides to Serve with Pork Chops

You can serve the pork chops on top of the applesauce, next to it or under it, as the applesauce is essentially the “sauce” of the dish. Of course, a vegetable or mashed potatoes will always work well here too! Check out our recipes for Parmesan Peppercorn Mashed Potatoes, Garlic Thyme Smashed Potatoes, or Parmesan Herb Asparagus with Prosciutto and Pine Nuts for some ideas.

Breaded pork chops with fennel applesauce and crispy sage
Elevated Pork Chops with Fennel Applesauce


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Elevated Pork Chops and Fennel Applesauce

0 from 0 votes
Course: UncategorizedCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time


Brine Time



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  • For the Brine
  • 1.5 cups 1.5 water

  • ¼ cup kosher salt

  • 1/3 cup 1/3 brown sugar

  • 2 2 bay leaves

  • 12 12 black peppercorns

  • 3.5 cups 3.5 ice water

  • 4 4 thick cut pork chops – preferably boneless and trimmed of excess fat

  • For the Pork Chops
  • 1 tsp 1 black pepper

  • 2 Tbsp 2 finely chopped fresh sage

  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard

  • 1 Tbsp 1 lemon zest – finely chopped

  • 1 tsp 1 lemon juice

  • 4 Tbsp 4 AP flour

  • 3 3 eggs

  • 1 Tbsp 1 water

  • 1 tsp 1 kosher salt

  • 2 cups 2 panko breadcrumbs

  • 4 Tbsp 4 butter

  • For the Fennel Applesauce
  • 1 small 1 fennel bulb (175g) chopped

  • 2 large 2 apples*, prepared (peeled and cored – 425g) in large dice

  • 50 g 50 celery – peeled to remove the outer fibers and cut into ½” chunks

  • 2 Tbsp 2 sugar

  • ¼ cup water

  • ½ tsp kosher salt

  • ½ tsp lemon juice

  • 1/8 tsp 1/8 cinnamon


  • Brine the Pork*
  • Add the water to a pot with the salt, sugar, bay leaves and peppercorns and bring to a boil, stirring so that the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add to the ice water and stir. Combine with the pork chops in a large pan or a zip-top bag and refrigerate the pork chops in the brine for at least 6 hours or overnight (for best results).
  • Remove the pork chops, rinse with cold water and pat completely dry. Set aside in the refrigerator until you are ready for cooking.
  • Make the Applesauce*
  • The applesauce can be made ahead (and doubled if you like leftovers). Add all the ingredients except for the celery to a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add the celery and continue to cook until the fennel is soft and no longer crunchy – about 15 minutes. Remove to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and carefully puree until smooth. Set aside. This can be served with the pork hot, cold or room temperature, but the best flavor will be at room temperature.
  • Cook the Pork Chops
  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Take your dried pork chops and sprinkle with the black pepper. Meanwhile, combine the sage, mustard, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Combine the eggs and water and beat until they are combined and scrambled thoroughly. Combine the salt and breadcrumbs on a plate and set aside.
  • Coat each pork chop with some flour so they are completely covered with a light flour coating. Then gently coat with a portion of the mustard mixture (do these individually). After the mustard, dip in the egg/water combination, then onto the plate of breadcrumbs, pressing down to get the breadcrumbs encrusted on the pork chops.
  • In a large skillet – melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the pork chops and cook for about 1 minute per side, or until the breadcrumbs have just started to brown and have soaked up some butter. Gently remove to a pan and put them in the preheated oven.
  • After about 13 minutes, check the temperature in the center of the pork with an instant read thermometer. They usually take about 15-20 minutes if they are thick pork chops (about 1.5”). The target temperature is 143° F. Once they are done, remove and let rest for 5 minutes, then plate with the applesauce and serve with extra applesauce on the side.


  • The brine ensures that the pork turns out juicy and enhances the flavor. We HIGHLY recommend including this step when making this recipe for best results.
  • We often make the applesauce in advance and keep it in the fridge to snack on as well as serve with this dish.
  • Use sweet apples for this recipe. Our favorite is Kiku, but we have also used and recommend one of the following that you should be able to find: Gala, Fuji, Honeycrisp, Jazz, or Envy. There are many varieties that will work, so feel free to use what you have available to you.

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