Maple-Brined Pork Chops with Pear Chutney

These maple-brined pork chops take their juiciness from a maple syrup-bay leaf-peppercorn brine. A pear chutney pairs beautifully with the chops. A conversation-stopping autumn dinner.

Four juicy seared maple-brined pork chops with pear chutney on a cutting board

The trickiest aspect of this recipe for pork chops? 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. Rest assured, the actual prep is a piece of cake, given that the brine is hands-on and the sweetly savory pear chutney–made from just four ingredients–comes together in minutes. Meanwhile, those thick-cut pork chops practically cook themselves. Good enough for guests although we doubt you’re going to want to share. Originally published October 11, 2011.Renee Schettler Rossi

What is the purpose of brining pork chops?

Thin cuts of pork that cook relatively quickly, such as pork chops, tend to dry out quite easily due to the lean nature of the cut of meat. Brining pork chops infuses the pork with moisture as well as flavor. Although brining solutions are heavily salted, the resulting pork chops aren’t overly salty. And, in fact, they’re quite remarkably juicy. After just once, you may never again cook pork chops without first brining them.

Maple-Brined Pork Chops

  • Quick Glance
  • (2)
  • 45 M
  • 1 H, 15 M
  • Serves 6
5/5 - 2 reviews
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Ingredients

  • For the pear chutney
  • For the pork chops

Directions

For the pear chutney

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the pears and vinegar.  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.

Brine the pork chops

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.

Remove the pork chops from the brine, rinse them, and then pat them dry. Let them stand on a wire rack to dry for about 10 minutes. Discard the brine.

Make the pork chops

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. Place chops on a platter, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for 3 to 5 minutes.

Serve chops on the platter or individual plates along with a heaping spoonful of chutney.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

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.

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. The slight hint of the ginger with the sweet and savory chutney was wonderful. The cooking for the pork chops was exact. We had an Oregon pinot noir with the dish. The house smelled so good.

I’ll be serving this dish again and again!

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Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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!! 🙂

    1. I think grits would be phenomenal with this, Kimberley…not trying to keep on the cheese theme, 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?

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

    1. 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 weight and thickness? If you use smaller or thinner chops, they will not need that much brining time. We’ll figure this out.

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