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
- 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
- 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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Maple-Brined Pork Chops Recipe © 2011 Brigit Binns. Photo © 2011 Kate Sears. All rights reserved.