Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Brined Pork Chops with Blackberry Maple Sauce (as adapted from “Sweet Lorraine’s” in Michigan)

Brined Pork Chops

6 bone-in rib loin pork chops (12 ounces each), 1½ inches thick

1 ½ quarts water

3 tablespoons table salt

3 tablespoons sugar

Dissolve salt, sugar and add optional herbs in 1½ quarts water in medium container or gallon-sized zipper-lock bag. Submerge chops and refrigerate for one hour. Note that if chops are frozen, the defrosting process can take place in the brine (e.g., if defrosting process takes two hours, the last hour can take place in the brine.)

Rinse chops under cold water and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Grill until heated just through, approximately 3-4 minutes per side or until juices run clear.

QUICK BRINE METHOD: change brine ingredients slightly, increasing salt from 3 T to ¼ cup and decreasing water to 1 quart; soak in brine for 30 minutes, rather than one hour.

Blackberry Maple Sauce

Makes 6 servings

9 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided (chilled and cubed)

8 tablespoons sugar

1 cup dry white wine

1 cup orange juice

1/3 cup raspberry wine vinegar

1 1/2 pounds semi-frozen blackberries

1/2 cup low-sodium beef broth or stock

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon dry thyme

2 tablespoons cornstarch, blended with 2 tablespoons cold water

1/4 cup port or brandy

1/4 cup dark real maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Heat 6 tablespoons butter in sauce pan until melted. Add sugar, stir. Continue to cook over medium heat until sugar melts and starts to turn amber (brush sides of pan with ice water to remove sugar crystals). Whisk mixture to combine the butter and sugar, add wine and orange juice (this will bubble up and the sugar will harden slightly). Continue to cook over medium heat until the sugar starts to melt, scraping bottom of pan if necessary. Add vinegar, semi-frozen blackberries, stock and herbs. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium. Heat and continue to cook for 30 minutes.

Strain sauce in a fine mesh, large strainer; it will take as long as 30 minutes to strain. Throw out solids and bring liquid back to a boil, reduce heat and whisk in cornstarch mix. Sauce will thicken slightly. Add port/brandy, maple syrup and salt, and whisk to combine. Continue to cook over medium heat, about 15 minutes. Blend in remaining 3 tablespoons cold butter. Remove from heat and add fresh blackberries.

Use sauce at once or store in refrigerator (to reheat do not bring to a boil but heat slowly over low heat). Yields: 4 cups.

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