Roasted Autumn Fruits and Herby Brined Pork Chops
Pork and fruit go very well together, especially if the pork is brined. In our house, sweet and salty things are much appreciated. As far as I’m concerned, whoever thought up salted caramel was a genius, and any excuse to have fruit instead of vegetables as a side dish always makes the boys happy.
This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Endives, Apples, and Grapes looked dubious to me. I like endives just fine, and I did look for them, but I could not find them. However, I must confess to not looking all that hard because I knew it would be a hard sell to the boys. I’ve only just got them used to sauteed dinosaur kale and that only goes down because I
drown cook it in bacon fat.
I was relieved that Dorie provided an alternative idea for this recipe in the Bonne Idee column next to the recipe. This feature, by the way, is one of the things I love about her cookbooks. She always provides variations that sub out ingredients for different times of the year or even different meals. Sometimes, there are even ideas regarding what to do with leftovers. Anyway, I decided to make the Thanksgiving Squash and Apples variation.
I used acorn squash, apples, green seedless grapes, rosemary, thyme, and chestnuts. The chestnuts I found at Costco in the nut section. I was pretty ecstatic about this find because it was a big bag, it was cheap ($5 and change, I think), and they are organic. (I chose to push aside its carbon footprint, for now)
Everything looked happy in the pan. I melted some butter and sprinkled on some sea salt to simulate salted butter. Oh, by the way, I also decided to roast the fruit instead of pan sauteeing on the stovetop. I wanted leftovers, you see, and this seemed to me the best way to cook more with minumum cleanup and fuss. The chestnuts got added halfway through the cooking time because I did not want them to burn.
After awhile, I turned them over and let them finish cooking awhile longer. They looked great coming out of the oven. Earlier in the day, I had brined my pork chops, so while the fruit was in the oven, the husband was grilling. If you have never brined a pork chop, I urge you to try. It doesn’t take long to prep and it makes the meat more moist and infuses it with flavor. These pork chops came from a friend’s farm and, because of the way he raises them, they are really lean. If we didn’t brine them, they would be really dry.
The results of our labors were delicious. The fruit’s flavors had concentrated wonderfully in the oven. The grapes tasted super sweet and the squash was nice and salty and creamy. It all went really well with the brined pork chops which were perfectly cooked, thanks to the husband. I’ve included the recipe for the brine below in case you want to try them yourself.
Next time: Sweet apples and sour dough, maybe
Herby Brined Pork Chops
4 center cut pork chops at least an inch thick.
1/3 cup kosher salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 thyme sprigs
3 rosemary sprigs
2 large garlic cloves, sliced or minced
Freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup white wine
2 cups ice
Prepare the brine:
1. In a 2 cup glass measuring cup, combine the salt, sugar, herbs, garlic, and freshly ground pepper to taste. Add boiling water to measure 2 cups total. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt. The boiling water helps to bring out the flavors of the herbs and garlic into the brine. Transfer to a large container that will hold both the pork chops and the brine. You want it to be able to hold at least 2 quarts, preferably more.
2. Pour 1/3 cup white wine into the empty measuring cup. Add 2 cups of ice and transfer to your brining container. Stir until all the ice is melted. The mixture should not be warm at all.
Prep the Pork:
1. Using a paring knife, poke slits into both sides of the pork chop, about 6-8 slits per side is enough. This will help the brine penetrate the meat. See?
2. Cut slits into the membrane side of the pork chops, about 1 inch apart. These help the chops stay nice and flat while they are cooking.
3. Place chops in the container with the brine and put it in the fridge to marinate for at least an hour, preferably 2-3 and no more than 5. We did our for 5 hours and they were a tad on the salty side, so be careful not to overbrine.
1. Remove pork from brine and pat dry. Make sure your grill is nice and hot and clean.
2. The husband grilled the chops over a hot fire, turning them over every two minutes for a total of 3 turns, making sure to rotate them as well to get those nice cross hatched lines. They were perfectly done after 8 minutes, but you’ll want to cook them to your own taste.
This makes 4 really large servings.