Maple-Brined Pork Chops with Pear Chutney

In autumn, when the light changes and there’s a briskness in the air, these maple-brined pork chops are my go-to dish for a satisfying meal at home. Adding just a small quantity of maple syrup to the brine gives the meat a hint of sweetness, which shines through when the pork is paired with the sweet-and-savory pear chutney. I like to pour an Oregon Pinot Noir with this dish.–Brigit Binns

LC Brine + Maple Syrup + Pork Chops = Mmmm Note

The trickiest aspect of this pork chops recipe? Planning your craving. You’ll need to start prep work for the brine and the pork chops at least 6 hours in advance—and also plan to try to spend the subsequent hours doing something other than drifting into a reverie over the subtly sweet, ever so slightly peppery pork chops soon to be on your plate. The actual prep work is a piece of cake. The pear chutney–all four ingredients, including maple syrup–comes together in minutes. Meanwhile, those thick-cut pork chops practically cook themselves. Good enough for guests, without a doubt, so long as you don’t mind sharing.

Maple-Brined Pork Chops Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 45 M
  • 1 H, 15 M
  • Serves 6

Ingredients

  • For the pear chutney
  • 3 large, ripe, firm pears, such as Bartlett, Bosc, or Comice, peeled, quartered, cored, and coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed golden brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • For the pork chops
  • 6 cups cold water
  • 2/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 6 bone-in pork loin chops, each about 8 ounces and 3/4 inch thick
  • Olive oil for brushing
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  • For the pear chutney
  • 1. Combine the pears and vinegar in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, until the pears begin to break down, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the brown sugar, stirring until dissolved. Add the ginger, return to low heat, and cook, stirring almost constantly, until the mixture is dark brown and very thick, about 10 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
  • Make the pork chops
  • 2. In a tall, narrow nonreactive container that will fit in your refrigerator, combine the cold water, salt, maple syrup, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Stir until the salt dissolves. Submerge the pork chops in the brine and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to overnight.
  • 3. Remove the pork chops from the brine, rinse them, and then pat them thoroughly dry. Let them stand on a wire rack to dry for about 10 minutes. Discard the brine.
  • 4. Heat a large cast-iron-pan over medium-high heat until very hot, about 3 minutes. Brush both sides of each chop lightly with oil and season generously with pepper. Add the chops to the pan, without crowding them or letting them touch one another. Cook, without moving, for 2 minutes. Turn and cook for 2 minutes more. Reduce the heat to very low and continue cooking the pork chops, turning once, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a chop away from the bone registers 140°F (60°C), about 6 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • 5. Transfer the chops to a platter or individual plates and serve with a heaping spoonful of chutney.
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Comments
Comments
  1. Testers Choice Testers Choice says:

    [Sofia R.] I have found a brand new way to eat pork chops. I cannot recall the last time we ate chops that were were so tasty, juicy, tender, and oh-so-very amazing. Not one single person at the table had one bad comment to say. The chutney was very good and certainly went very well with the chops, even though the chops certainly didn’t need it. The chutney had a sweetness to it, yet wasn’t overpowering. The only issue with the recipe is that it took quite a bit longer to soften my pears than the recipe suggests.

  2. Testers Choice Testers Choice says:

    [Sandy Hill] Anyone loving pork chops will love this recipe! The brining was simple and took care of itself overnight. We couldn’t really taste the maple syrup, though the chops were so moist. Now I know why people brine meat! The pear chutney was a delicious little chutney. I didn’t cook the chutney as long as called for in the recipe. My chopped pears “broke down” in five to seven minutes, not 15 minutes. The slight hint of the ginger with the sweet and savory chutney was wonderful. The cooking for the pork chops was exact to reach the 140 degrees. As suggested, we had an Oregon Pinot Noir with the dish. The house smelled so good. I’ll be serving this dish again and again!

  3. Testers Choice Testers Choice says:

    [Natalie R.] This made for a lovely fall meal. The pork chop has a depth of flavor from the brine that goes together so well with the pear chutney. The time for cooking the chops was spot-on. The chops were moist, with a great texture. This is a great way to use those pears that are not so pretty. I could have eaten the pear chutney on toast (or just with a spoon). A real benefit of this recipe is you can prepare most of it ahead of time for a nice dinner to come home to.

  4. Testers Choice Testers Choice says:

    [Laurie H.] These chops were simple to prepare and delicious! The maple flavor was delicate and paired nicely with the Parmesan Potato Gratin recipe. They seemed like they could have cooked a few minutes less. We did not use a thermometer to check the temperature; will do so next time. The other slight change we made was with the brine. We used some warm water to dissolve the salt, and then added the remaining cold water.

  5. Testers Choice Testers Choice says:

    [Helen Doberstein] Having never brined pork chops before, I was ready to take the plunge. I found that not all of the salt would dissolve in the six cups cold water, but everything else worked as written. The chutney was easy to prepare and delicious. If I were using a sweeter pear, I would probably decrease the sugar by a little, since I prefer a tarter or hotter chutney, The only complaint I have is that the chops seemed a little salty for our tastes, and the maple flavor is a little subtle. I would certainly make this again, but I’d decrease the salt in the brine and add a little more maple syrup. Perhaps I might also decrease the sugar in the chutney by 1/3 cup and add 1/3 cup maple syrup to mirror the maple flavor of the chops.

  6. Testers Choice Testers Choice says:

    [Joel J.] An extremely easy recipe with just a few ingredients makes this a great recipe for beginners. The brining also keeps the pork very moist and tender, lessening the chance of drying out the meat by overcooking. I would use less sugar in the pear chutney next time. To quote my son: “Yum, it tastes just like pie filling” — which was a bit too sweet for my personal tastes.

  7. Judith Peres says:

    Thank you, thank you for breathing the breath of life back into my pork chop repertoire. Bartletts are especially good right now. I’ll keep the sugar caveats in mind; maybe sprinkle a little heat into the chutney.

  8. Amanda says:

    This one will be on the menu next week, thanks muchly! (I’m away eating at food festivals for the rest of this week, so no cooking.)
    My only problems are going to be the expense – maple syrup is hideously expensive here in Australia, I paid $12 for the last bottle I bought, and the agonizing thought of chucking that much of it out once the brining is done!
    I’m looking forward to this, though, as I’ve never tried brining meat before.

  9. Steven Ritchey says:

    Oh! This looks so good, have the chops already out, can’t wait to see how good it is. What a suprise for the family.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Swell to hear, Steven. Be sure to report back. We had terrific reviews on this from our recipe testers…so simple yet so stunning.

  10. O. says:

    I should have taken closer note of my instinctual reaction to “brine” in the recipe’s title. The time I marinated these was less than five and a half hours but the meat was so salty it was practically inedible – certainly not enjoyable. A couple nights later I recovered two left-over chops by steeping them ten minutes in very hot water then refreshing them with a quick sauté in butter. The brine was still fairly intense but much more tolerable. What I did like about the marinade was the essences of maple and pepper. However, the shining star of this recipe is the pear chutney. I have made it subsequently and used a white wine Orleans vinegar infused with raspberry juice instead of the white vinegar. That extra layer of a second fruit introduces a remarkable depth to an already impressive chutney. It is fabulous with vanilla ice cream, vanilla yogurt, nutmeg cake, or just by itself while sipping a round, rich black coffee.

    • David Leite says:

      O., I’m happy that you enjoyed the chutney but dismayed that you had trouble with the brine. A few questions: 1. Did you use kosher salt? It has larger granules than table salt (and differs in ways from other salts) so that volume-wise you’re using less when using kosher. 2.) Did you use the correct amount of water? 3.) Were the chops the correct weigh and thickness? If you use smaller or thinner chops, they will not need that much brining time. We’ll figure this out.

  11. steven ritchey says:

    These pork chops were so good and tasty, they melted in your mouth. It’s a good pork chop recipe to recommend to everyone. Try it. My wife who doesn’t care for chops loved them.

  12. Kimberley says:

    Any suggestions for sides to serve with these? I note the comment above concerning the Parmesan Potatoes Gratin, but I just made a parmesan potato dish last weekend, so I’m hesitant to make another so soon. Would appreciate all suggestions anyone would care to throw out there!! :)

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      I think grits would be phenomenal with this, Kimberley…not trying to keep on the cheese them, but these cheesy white grits could be quite nice. A simple salad of frisee, radicchio, maybe a little mache with a balsamic vinaigrette to which you’ve added a few drops of maple syrup would also be nice. Anyone else, ideas?

  13. Amanda says:

    These sound so good! Thanks so much for including my recipe in your links!

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