Cider-Brined Berkshire Pork Loin Chop

Serves 4

Texture plays a really important role in any dish. In the relish, the jewel-like seeds of the pomegranate are visually appealing, but they’re really there to provide a crunchy sweetness that complements the pork.

ingredients

  • For the Brined Pork Chops:
  • 3 cups hot (150 degrees F) water
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons crushed black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 4 double-cut center loin Berkshire pork chops (10 to 12 ounces each)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • For the Braised Bacon:
  • 1/2 pound slab bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • For the Cider Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sliced shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 5 thyme sprigs
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • Reserved liquid from braising bacon
  • 1/2 cup dark chicken stock
  • For the Pomegranate Relish:
  • 2 tablespoons pistachio oil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1/4 cup finely diced (1/4 inch) celery
  • Reserved braised bacon
  • 1/4 cup pistachios, toasted
  • For the Brussels Sprouts:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, outer leaves removed, and very thinly sliced on a mandoline
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

directions

TO BRINE THE PORK CHOPS:

Combine the water, salt and brown sugar in a large bowl or glass measuring cup, stirring until the salt and sugar dissolve. Add the cider, peppercorns, mustard, thyme sprigs and rosemary. Refrigerate the brine until cold, then put the chops in a large zippered bag and pour the brine over. Seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible. Place the bag in a bowl (just in case it leaks), or just place the brine in a bowl and add the pork chops. Let the chops brine in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours.

FOR THE BACON:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Spread the bacon out in a small rimmed baking sheet or baking dish. Add the water and butter to the pan, place in the oven, and braise, stirring often, for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the bacon is slightly rendered and soft. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate and strain any liquid in the pan through a fine-mesh sieve into a small bowl. Reserve the braising liquid for the sauce and the bacon for the relish. The bacon and the braising liquid can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

FOR THE CIDER SAUCE:

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, or until golden. Add the cider and simmer until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. Add the thyme sprigs, peppercorns, reserved bacon liquid, and chicken stock and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, skimming several times to remove impurities and ensure a clear sauce. When the liquid has reduced and thickened, strain it through a fine-mesh sieve into a small saucepan or container. Refrigerate for up to 2 days and rewarm before serving.

FOR THE POMEGRANATE RELISH:

Whisk the pistachio oil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and pomegranate molasses together in a small bowl until blended. Stir in the pomegranate seeds and celery. The relish can be made up to 1 hour ahead to this point, but the reserved bacon and pistachios should be added right before serving.

TO COOK THE PORK CHOPS:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Remove the pork chops from the brine, wipe off the herbs, and pat the chops dry with paper towels. Season the chops lightly with salt and pepper (they will pick up salt from the brine). Heat the olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet or sauté pan over medium heat until the oil shimmers. Add the pork chops and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden. Turn the chops over and cook for another minute or so. (Don’t be too aggressive with the heat because brining quickens the browning process and the chops will burn if the heat is too high.) Put the pan into the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the temperature on an instant-read thermometer reads 140 degrees F to 150 degrees F. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes, during which time the internal temperature of the pork will rise 5 degrees F. You want the final temperature to be no more than 155 degrees F; there will be just a hint of pink in the pork.

FOR THE BRUSSEL SPROUTS:
Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the shallots and Brussels sprouts and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of the water and the butter and cook for about 5 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the Brussels sprouts are tender but haven’t lost their bright color, adding another 1/4 cup water if necessary. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

TO SERVE:
Meanwhile, to finish the relish, warm the bacon in a small skillet and stir into the pomegranate relish along with the pistachios. Place equal portions of the Brussels sprouts on each of 4 warm dinner plates and top with a pork chop. Spoon the sauce over the chops and around the plates. Finish with a generous plop of relish on top of the pork.

Tip: To extract pomegranate seeds from the fruit, cut the pomegranate crosswise in half. Hold one of the halves over a bowl with the cut side facing the bowl. Bang the fruit with the back of a wooden spoon, which should release most of the seeds almost entirely intact.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Ten Speed Press. All rights reserved.

RecID 8642

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