Brined Pork Chops with Apple Compote from Cooking Light’s Real Family Food Cookbook (and the Giveaway Winner)

A couple of days ago, you learned that I’m shy. Not painfully so, but for me to talk to people I don’t know does not come naturally.

I’m also quiet. I don’t talk very much and prefer to be the listener in a conversation. It’s always been the case, but that quest for silence has been amplified since the arrival of Dudette, whose mouth runs non-stop from the moment her eyes open in the morning until well after we’ve turned out the light at night.

If you were to walk in my house right this very moment, all you’d hear is the clicking of my keyboard. Otherwise, it’s absolutely still. I love it this way.

My CDs are standing to the side, little particles of dust building layer by layer, feeling absolutely neglected. I have to admit that I miss them too, but I know that in a few hours, home will be filled with music. Dudette will be singing, playing her drums, pounding out noise on the piano (lessons will start next year), or producing some other form of cacophony.

Hubby likes to talk as well. In fact, he’s the yin to my yang. Introverted, um, no, not so much. When he gets home from work, I listen to his stories from the day, but it’s a bit of a bummer for him because he can’t really re-tell any of the others. After being together for fifteen years or so, I’ve pretty much heard them all.

That means that visitors are very welcome in our house. Like last night. A friend dropped by just as I was getting dinner ready. Hubby and he disappeared to look at a few things that we need done around the house (like re-painting a cathedral ceiling) while I finished up in the kitchen.

Then Dudette and I waited….and waited….and waited while they chatted. I’m pretty certain I heard Hubby say good-bye at least a half dozen times. That’s the way it goes sometimes and it’s a good thing.

The Process

For as far in advance as you have to prepare for this dinner, it’s amazing how quick it is to make. (I love that sentence.)

The chops get brined, which means they spend 24 hours in a salty, sugary, spiced water bath. That’s the preparation. I chose the Basic Brine with the Spice Flavoring. I figured that would go best with the fresh ginger in the apple compote.

Once it’s time to cook, the meal comes together in less than 20 minutes. My chops and compote were finished before the sides were done. I love a meal like that.

The Verdict

Score another for Real Family Food. All three of us finished in record time and eyed the empty serving plate with sorrow. The spice brine is amazing on the chops. I only had boneless, but they were more tender and juicy than I remember ever being. The spice combination was fantastic and paired perfectly with the ginger in the apple compote.

The only thing that I disagreed with was the light coating of cooking spray on a very hot iron skillet. As you can see from my chops, they didn’t take to well to that idea and tried to burn. I had to turn the heat down and add a bit of oil for moisture, especially since I had patted my pork dry as instructed.

I think we’ve found a new favorite pork chop recipe.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

I’d use a couple of teaspoons of oil in the pan instead of cooking spray.

Brined Pork Chops with Apple Compote from Cooking Light’s Real Family Food Cookbook (and the Giveaway Winner)
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4

Ingredients
  • Master Brine (recipe below)
  • 4 6-ounce bone-in center-cut pork chops (about ½ inch thick)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1½ pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into ½-inch wedges
  • ½ cup apple cider
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger

Instructions
  1. Prepare Master Brine. Add pork to brine; seal bag. Let stand in refrigerator 24 hours.

  2. Remove pork from brine, rinse and pat dry. Let stand 30 minutes.

  3. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add pork, cook 3-4 minutes on each side or until done. Transfer chops to a plate; cover and keep warm.

  4. Add apples to pan; saute 5 minutes. Add cider, brown sugar and ginger, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Reduce heat to low; cook 5 minutes until apple is tender, stirring frequently. Serves 4.

Master Brine
Basic Brine:
cups water
/2 tablespoons kosher salt
tablespoons granulated sugar
teaspoons black peppercorns

To prepare basic brine, combine first 4 ingredients in a large heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag. Add ingredients for either the spice flavoring or the herb flavoring; seal bag, shaking until salt and sugar dissolve.

Makes 6 cups (enough for 1½ pounds of meat or poultry).

 

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