This dish is an easy mid-week meal, and was inspired by a treat we had while traveling through Brittany a few years ago. The sugar from the cider brine causes a deliciously sweet caramelized crust on the chops, and the brining process renders the inside of the meat perfectly seasoned and moist. I like the dish with a nice thick chop, but it would also work well with a cutlet, or pork tenderloin. The bite of the mustard, the sweetness of the cider, and the silkiness of the cream make for a well rounded sauce to complement the meat.
Boris helped me in the kitchen for this meal, though to be honest, most of his work this night was in prepping a special appetizer for his brother Gridley, who had requested Nobu Matsuhisa’s “Shrimp Tempura with Creamy Spicy Sauce” as a special 17th birthday treat. Details of that fabulous dish, and Boris’ excellent spicy mayonnaise will follow in a later post.
I am proud to say that this recipe has been chosen as a finalist in Food52’s “Pork with Cider” contest. Voting is underway now, and will continue until midnight, Tuesday December 1st. If you have the time, please visit their site at www.food52.com and vote for my “Cider Brined Pork with Calvados, Mustard and Thyme” recipe, so that I may finally earn myself a spot in their soon to be published cookbook, THANKS and Bon Appetit!
- 2 cups apple cider
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
Chops and Pan Sauce:
- 2 1" thick, bone-in center cut pork chops
- 1/4 cup calvados
- 1 shallot, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely minced
- 1/3 cup apple cider
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place all brine ingredients in a medium saucepan, and stir over low heat until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Place chops in a single layer in a shallow pan, cover fully with brine, wrap and refrigerate overnight. When ready to cook, remove the chops from the brine, rinse well under cold water, and dry with paper towels before continuing.
- Heat 1-2 tablespoons of canola oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Season pork with a little salt and freshly ground pepper. Add pork to skillet and sauté until just cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to plate; cover with foil and keep warm.
- Pour off excess oil, and deglaze the pan with the calvados over medium heat , scraping the bottom of the pan well, letting the brandy reduce to a glaze. Add 2 tablespoons butter to the skillet over medium heat and add the shallots and thyme, and sauté 2 minutes. Stir in cream and cider; boil until mixture thickens to sauce consistency, about 3 minutes. Stir in mustard, season with salt and pepper, remove from heat and serve with the pork.