Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Apple Cider-Brined Pork Chops with Maple-Cider Sauce

I’m not much of an apple cider fan when it comes to drinking it, but this fresh, autumn staple is great for brining meat and making quick finishing sauces.

In this recipe, I use it for both—tenderizing pork chops in a long, apple-flavored bath and combining a little cider with maple syrup for a rich, sweet drizzle at the end. Shallot and Dijon mustard keep the sauce from being overly sweet.

These chops are great on the grill, in a grill pan, or pan-roasted, as here.

Serves 2


For the Pork Chops
  • 3 cups apple cider
  • 1/4 cup table salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp pink or black peppercorns
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2-3 fresh herb sprigs, such as rosemary and sage
  • 2 center-cut, bone-in pork chops, about 1-inch thick each (1 to 1 1/4 lbs total)
  • olive oil, for rubbing and brushing
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
Bone-In Center-Cut Chops
For the Sauce
  • 3 tsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped shallot
  • 1/3 cup apple cider
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
For the Pork Chops
  1. Combine the cider, table salt, sugar, peppercorns, cloves, and herb sprigs in a large bowl, stirring well to dissolve the salt and sugar.
  2. Add the pork chops, submerging as much as possible. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 6 hours.
Apple Cider Brine
Chops Beginning to Brine
  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  2. Remove the chops from the brine and pat dry, rubbing off any spices clinging to the meat. Place on a plate and rub with oil. Season both sides with sea salt (light on the salt) and black pepper.
Brined Chops
  1. Heat an ovenproof (preferably cast-iron) skillet over medium-high heat and brush with olive oil. Sear the chops until lightly charred on the bottom, ­­­­­­4-5 minutes.
  2. Turn the chops over and place the skillet in the oven. Roast until the chops are just cooked through, 8-9 minutes. Transfer to a plate or board and let rest 5 minutes.
Chops Beginning to Sear 
Chops after Turning 
Pan-Roasted Pork Chops
Plate the pork chops and spoon sauce (recipe follows) over and around.

For the Sauce
  1. Heat a small skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat. Add 2 teaspoons of butter and swirl to coat. Add the shallot and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Add the apple cider, maple syrup, and mustard and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a light simmer, stirring to dissolve the mustard.
Sauce Beginning to Cook
  1. Simmer lightly until the sauce is reduced by about 1/3, 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and swirl in the remaining teaspoon of butter. (Re-warm gently over low heat, if needed.)

Cooked Sauce 
Apple Cider Brined Pork Chops with Maple-Cider Sauce

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