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)

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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.

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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.

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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
Boiling water
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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

To cook:

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.

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Posted on September 28, 2012, in Cooking, French Fridays with Dorie, Recipe and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. Brilliant roasting the dish. I couldn’t find a skillet large enough to just double the original recipe. Love the pork chop you paired it with.

  2. Oh, I was wondering if anyone was going to make the Bonne Idee. I went back and forth because I was really liking the look of the squash variation much more than the endive one, but in the end I stuck to the original. I loved the original but think that I’m going to give the squash idea a try sooner rather than later because it just looks like such a great seasonal side.

  3. Oh, you can bet I am brining some chops soon…that all looks stunningly delicious! I’m thinking that squash is just the thing, too!

  4. Beautiful dish. Great idea on roasting the fruits and veggies. I love the use of chestnuts. I need to run to Costco and get some. Have a great weekend!

  5. Both if those dishes look incredibly delicious! I will be doing a delayed version due to a party today but I may try your version!

  6. I also made the bonne idee and pork chops! I oven roasted mine but love your idea of brining and can’t wait to try it. I thought this was one of the best french friday recipes so far and can’t wait to serve it Thanksgiving. I’m jealous of your chestnuts. I paid $6 for a jar of about 20!

  7. I had to caramelize grapes this week for ffwD, so this dish looks delicious right now!

  8. That looks great! I wasn’t a huge fan of the endive, but I definitely want to try the squash version.

  9. Now that I have seen your squash version I’m not sure which looks better. I will have to
    try this one, it looks so delicious. It certainly seems to go well with the pork chops. Have
    a wonderful weekend.

  10. Brilliant combinations! I certainly would do this with squash but I still thought that the endive version would be good with turkey too so maybe I have one side dish for Thanksgiving already established. Great job!

  11. Ooooh, I do like the Bon Idee version – probably way better than the other one. Would also love to try a brined chop.

  12. It all looks amazingly delicious – what a beautifully grilled porc chop – it looks just perfect with the Apples, Grapes and Acorn Squash!

  13. Ok I’m sold next time I will make this with squash!!! It looks wonderful! I am not a big fan of endive 🙂

  14. So good to know that this works well with the squash as that looked wonderful too. Also great to know that it roasts well as I don’t have a skillet big enough for all that squash. Since you mentioned dinosaur kale (which I LOVE) here is my new favorite recipe with it. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Tuscan-Kale-Caesar-Slaw-366450 I left out the hard-boiled egg.

  15. This whole dish looks fabulous and I love that you substituted the squash…I have that on my “to do” list! How did you prep the chestnuts…they look like they still have the skin on? I would love to give them a try!

  16. I did the Thanksgiving version too and loved it! No endives to be found here in Central WI – oh well. Your meal looks delicious!

  17. Squash & roasting – both brilliant ideas!

  18. okay, I’ll need to try the squash version too! smart idea to roast since you wanted more. I used a bigger pan, but didn’t get the caramelization, which actually tasted fine too (just more like fresh fruit!)

  19. The squash version looks fantastic! I made pork with mine as well, but yours looks like it turned out way better than mine! I’ll have to try the brine!

  20. The first to use squash so far that I have seen! 🙂 It not only looks bright and inviting but it looks like you treated your family to a great meal!!

  21. Gorgeous! Thanks for sharing the pork recipe, too – I’m looking forward to trying it. I was only able to find one nice endive this week, so sort of halved the recipe. I think I might try the bonne idée version on Monday for Thanksgiving – yours is inspiring me!

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