Brining the pork chop is the most important part of this recipe. The brine adds another layer of flavor to the pork and helps to keep it juicy and tender.
3 bay leaves
1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper
3/4 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon anise seed
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup salt
1 tablespoon minced garlic
6 pork chops (10 ounces each)
Apple Cider Sauce (recipe follows)
In a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle, grind bay leaves, peppercorns, clove, red pepper, thyme and anise seed to a fine powder.
In a large bowl, prepare brine by mixing together 1 gallon water, the sugar and the salt. Stir until the sugar and salt dissolve. Stir in the herb-spice mix and the garlic. Cover the pork chops with the brine, cover the bowl with wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 hours.
Preheat a grill. Place the pork chops on the grill and cook for 5 to 7 minutes on each side, depending on their thickness. Keep the chops warm while you prepare the sauce.
Apple Cider Sauce
1 tablespoon blended oil*
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
3/4 cup unfiltered apple cider
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in pieces
1/4 cup pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped
To make the sauce, heat the oil and sauté the shallots in a saucepan over medium heat until they are translucent. Add the sage and apple slices and cook until the apples are soft and begin to brown, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the cider, vinegar and chicken stock, and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool. Puree the mixture in a blender and strain.
To serve, heat the sauce until it just begins to simmer. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and pistachios.
*Blended oil, 1 part olive oil to 3 parts canola oil, is subtle in flavor and will not overwhelm the other flavors in a dish.
Adapted from The Girl & The Fig Cookbook (Simon & Schuster, 2004) with permission by Sondra Bernstein.