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Orange-Maple-Glazed Pork Chops Recipe

Makes: 6 servings

Brining pork chops makes them tender and juicy. Glazing them with orange juice and maple syrup makes them even sweeter. Plan ahead, to give the chops enough time in the brine.

INGREDIENTS

For the brine:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup coarse salt
  • 3 strips orange zest (fresh or dried)
  • 2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 3 quarts water (12 cups)
  • 6 (1-inch-thick) center-cut pork chops (about 4 1/2 pounds)

For the glaze:

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup prepared horseradish
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon
INSTRUCTIONS
For the brine:

  1. Put the sugar, salt, seasoning, and molasses in a large saucepan with 4 cups water. Bring to a boil, stirring. Remove from the heat, add 8 cups cold water, and cool to tepid.
  2. Drop in the pork chops, cover, and refrigerate for 12 hours.
  3. Remove the chops from the brine and pat them dry. If you brine them overnight, you can wrap them in plastic and leave them in the refrigerator until an hour before dinnertime.
  4. Fire up an outdoor grill.

For the glaze:

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Once the grill is hot, pat the chops dry. Grill them on the first side for 6 minutes, then turn them over and brush the seared side generously with the glaze. Cook for another 6 minutes, and turn the chops again. Brush with the glaze and cook for 1 minute. Take them off the grill, arrange them on a platter, and serve.

Variations: Actually, you don’t need to fire up the grill if you don’t want to. You can broil the chops and then brush with the glaze. Give them a minute on each side under the broiler for the glaze to bubble.

If you’re not in the mood for a glaze, you could also pan-roast the brined chops, and maybe serve them with some roasted carrots. Bring out whatever pickles you’ve got in the refrigerator.

Heat the oven to 400°F, and heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Spoon 2 tablespoons olive oil into the skillet and when it shimmers, add half the pork chops. Brown well on both sides, and transfer to a baking dish. Brown the other 3 chops. Put these in the baking dish, slide into the oven, and bake for 15 minutes.

Beverage pairing: Chateau Ste. Michelle Eroica Riesling, Washington. The sweetness in this dish suggests a wine with new-world fruitiness, but you also want old-world structure, making this Washington state gem a good pick. Pork is excellent with white wine, as the acidity in this will support the more unctuous components of the dish.

This recipe, while from a trusted source, may not have been tested by the CHOW food team.