Apple-Brined Pork Chops with Dried Cherries
Note: This recipe was inspired by an amazing dinner we had at The Moose Café in Mendocino, California.
2 quarts apple juice or cider, unsweetened
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup mustard seeds
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons pickling spices
6 garlic cloves, smashed with side of a large knife
4 (1 1/2-inch-thick) rib pork chops
4 to 6 tablespoons olive oil or bacon fat, melted
1/2 cup dry Riesling or dry sherry
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 dried cherries
To brine the pork chops: Bring the apple juice to a boil with the kosher salt, mustard seeds, sugar, pickling spices, and garlic, and then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes. Let the brine cool completely, then add chops and chill, covered, 1 to 2 days.
To roast the chops: Preheat oven to 425°F. Remove chops from brine and pat dry. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown chops in batches, without crowding, turning once, 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Use a splatter screen over the pan to protect you. (Add oil 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time as needed between batches.)
Transfer chops to a roasting pan and roast in middle of oven until an instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally 2 inches into center of meat (do not touch bone) registers 145°F, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer chops to a platter and let stand, loosely covered, 5 minutes before serving (do not clean pan).
To make the pan sauce: Straddle the roasting pan across 2 burners and add any meat juices from platter, carefully pouring off the hot fat, along with wine and broth and deglaze by boiling over moderately high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, until reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 4 minutes. Stir in the dried cherries. Season with salt and pepper and pour over the chops to serve.
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