Pork Steaks and Baked Apples

Makes 4 servings
Time: About 30 minutes

Pork and apples are a winning flavor combo but usually losers in the texture department. This Tuscan classic solves the overcooking problem with a quick-braise technique. Steaks can be cut from different parts of the pig. Try to find loin steaks or chops with some fat or steaks from the shoulder or leg.

Salt and coarsely ground black pepper

Pinch cayenne

1 teaspoon minced garlic

4 McIntosh, Cortland, Golden Delicious, or other good apples, cored and cut into eighths

1/2 cup semisweet white wine, like Muscatel or off-dry Riesling

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 to 2 pounds boneless pork steaks, cut 1 inch thick from the loin or shoulder

All-purpose flour for dredging

1 cup fruity red wine

1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Combine about a teaspoon of the salt with a pinch each of pepper and cayenne; add the garlic and sprinkle the apples with this mixture. Put in a baking dish, pour the white wine around the apples, and bake until the apples are shriveled but still moist, about 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, put the oil in a skillet over medium heat. When hot, dust the pork lightly with flour and sear it on both sides, for a total of just a minute or so; it need not become really brown. Add the red wine and adjust the heat so the mixture boils energetically. Cook the pork, turning occasionally, until it gains a beautiful deep color, is cooked through, and the wine reduces to a syrup-about 10 minutes. Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper.

3. Serve the pork with the red wine sauce spooned over it, next to the apples, with a little of the white wine they cooked in.