Brined Pork Chops with Apples and Onion
I love the taste of pork and serve it often. I usually cook it in some kind of sauce because I find it can sometimes get a little dried out if I am not paying attention to it every second. I recently decided to try brining the meat before cooking and I have to say, the results are very impressive and well worth the little extra time this method takes. I served the pork chops with roasted acorn squash and it was a perfect combination.
- Servings Serves 2; recipe can easily be multiplied.
For the brining the chops:
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) coarse kosher salt
- 1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced lengthwise
- 1.25 cm (1/2 inch) piece of peeled ginger root, cut into 4 slices
- 5 ml (1 teaspoon) each mustard seeds and black peppercorns, lightly crushed
- Two 3 inch (7.5 cm) sprigs fresh rosemary or thyme
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) aromatic white wine (such as Chardonnay)
- 2 thick pork rib or loin chops
- 5 ml (1 teaspoon) olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, cut in 1.25 cm (1/2 inch) wedges
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme, plus more to garnish
- 1 large apple, cored and cut in .6 cm (1/4 inch) slices
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) chicken broth
- 15 ml (1 tablespoon) apple cider vinegar
- For brining the chops: In a small saucepan combine the salt, garlic, ginger, mustard and peppercorns with 1 liter (4 quarts) water. Place over medium-low heat, stirring often, until mixture is steaming and salt has dissolved. Remove from heat and add rosemary and wine. Let stand until completely cooled.
2. Prick the pork chops all over with a fork about .3 cm (1/8-inch) deep. Flip the pork chops and repeat pricking the other side. Place in a non-reactive dish just big enough to hold the chops and the brine then pour brine over top. Cover and let sit 30 minutes at room temperature or up to 8 hours in the refrigerator.
3. When ready to cook, remove the pork chops from the brine (discard brine) and pat completely dry with paper towels.
4. For finishing: Heat a large cast-iron skillet (or other heavy, oven-safe skillet) over medium-high heat until almost beginning to smoke. Add the pork chops and cook until they begin to brown, about 1 minute on each side. Reduce the heat to medium. Continue to cook, flipping the chops every two minutes, until they register 60-63°C (140-145°F) in the thickest part, 5 – 8 minutes. Transfer the pork chops to a clean plate.
5. Add the olive oil to the pan and let it warm over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the onion, garlic, and 4 sprigs fresh thyme, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the apples, chicken broth and cider vinegar to the pan, stirring gently. Place the cooked pork chops on top, gently pressing them into the onion and apple. Place a lid on the pan and cook until the apples are warm and tender but not falling apart, 3 to 4 minutes.
6. Serve pork chops with pan juices, apples and onions spooned over top. Garnish with additional fresh sprigs of thyme if desired.