These paleo, Whole30-compliant pork chops with cranberry-apple compote are made for nights when you come home already hungry: they’re easy, satisfying, and fast. They can be ready in 30 minutes, and there’s a shortcut version that’s even faster!
I’m on Day 11 of my Whole30 and, at the risk of jinxing myself, it’s been smooth sailing so far! I’ve been drinking my coffee with homemade almond milk most days and occasionally making it into a chai ghee “latte” when I want something a little more indulgent. I’ve gotten a little tired of having eggs for breakfast, but mixing in the occasional dinner for breakfast has helped make eggs seem appealing again the next day. And I’ve done a pretty good job of making big batches of meals like bacon and sweet potato chili and cracklin’ chicken so that I can have leftovers for the next day.
I’m not quite as on top of my meal planning game as I’d like to be, though, so there have been several nights when I left work already hungry and didn’t have any leftovers ready to just heat up when I got home. That’s where these seared pork chops with cranberry-apple compote come in.
This whole recipe takes less than thirty minutes, and there’s even an abridged version where the compote is stripped down to its most essential ingredient. That version is in the recipe notes and can be accomplished in 15 minutes flat if you work efficiently.
Since they’re coated in a delicious dry rub made from the spices pictured above, these pork chops are also great on their own. Ben always has his plain because he’s averse to the texture of cooked apples (I’m all about that because it means more compote for me!). The dry rub gets smokiness and a little heat from the paprika and savory earthiness from the cumin and garlic. There’s also sea salt, pepper, and just a tiny bit of cinnamon as a nod to the apples that are in these pork chops’ future.
The compote is a simple mix of sweet apples and tart cranberries with a little orange juice and zest. Since the compote cooks in the same pan as the pork chops right after they’re done being seared, it gets a little spice and meaty goodness mixed in. (If you don’t have a freezer full of cranberries left over from overly ambitious Thanksgiving plans and/or don’t feel like zesting an orange, you can make the compote with just an apple–see the recipe notes.)
I recommend stocking up on pork chops and apples so you can whip up these pork chops with cranberry-apple compote whenever hunger strikes.
I’ll also be working on developing more fast, Whole30-friendly meals in the next few weeks, and I’d love to hear from you: what’s your favorite quick-cooking protein for nights when you need to get dinner on the table fast? Are there any specific ingredients you’d like to see make an appearance in Whole30 recipes this month?
If you need more fast paleo meal ideas in the meantime, check out my #30MinuteMondays archives here.
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt, or to taste (I used Himalayan pink salt)
- ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
- ¼ teaspoon bittersweet smoked paprika (or more if you want spicy chops)
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 bone-in pork chops, preferably less than 1 inch thick (about 1.5 pounds)*
- 1 tablespoon ghee or avocado oil
- ½ cup fresh or frozen cranberries (no need to defrost)
- 1 large apple, cored and coarsely chopped (I used an Opal apple)
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
- Juice of half an orange (about ¼ cup)
- Pinch of sea salt, or to taste
- Mix the spices and salt in a small bowl. Pat the pork chops dry with paper towels and rub the spice mixture evenly onto both sides of the chops. If you’re almost ready to cook, leave the pork chops out at room temperature for up to 30 minutes (it’s also fine to cook them right away). If you’d rather cook later, cover and refrigerate them for an hour or two, taking them out at least 15 minutes before you plan to cook them.
- Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. If your skillet is not large enough to hold all the chops in a single layer with a little space between them, use two separate pans or cook them in batches.
- When the pan is very hot, add the ghee or oil and swirl the pan to coat the bottom. Add as many pork chops as will comfortably fit and let them cook undisturbed for 5-7 minutes. You can test if they’re ready to flip by gently lifting an edge with tongs or a spatula—if the pork chop is sticking, it’s not quite ready yet.
- Once the chops release easily and are nicely browned on the bottom, turn them over and cook for 2-4 minutes on the second side or to your desired doneness. Keep in mind that the pork chops will continue to cook a bit after you remove them from the pan. Leaving the heat on, transfer them to a plate to rest.
- Add the compote ingredients to the skillet. Stir briefly with a spatula, scraping to deglaze the bottom of the pan.
- Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan, and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apples are lightly browned, the cranberries have burst, and much of the liquid has been absorbed. Season with a little sea salt to taste.
- Spoon the hot compote over the pork chops and serve right away.
For a shortcut version of this dish that's still delicious and even faster, omit all the compote ingredients except for the chopped apple (use a nice, big apple or 2 smaller ones). After you take the pork chops out of the pan, add the chopped apple, stirring and scraping with a spatula to deglaze the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and let the apple cook for 2-3 minutes, until softened and browned to your liking. Sprinkle on a little salt and pepper, spoon the apple on top of the pork chops, and dig in.
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