Cured Pork Chops with Vanilla & Stone Fruit

Traditional brines are heavy on the salt and used to preserve meat but we are just looking for flavor and texture in this recipe. This brine, delicately sweet and infused with vanilla, is perfect with pork and summer stone fruits. Plan for about four hours brining time. Serves 4 to 8

  • 2 lbs. boneless or bone-in pork chops (I use Rockside Ranch pork chops)

Brine:

  • 1 ½ cups boiling water
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup kosher or sea salt (not fine table salt)
  • 2 Tbls. cracked black pepper
  • 2-inch piece of vanilla bean, split down the center (optional but adds flavor)

Honey Vanilla Sauce (optional)

  • 4 peaches or equivalent amount of apricots or cherries
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup white wine or stock
  • 1 cup pork or chicken stock
  • 1 Tbls. honey
  • 1 Tbls. peach, apricot, or cherry jam to match your fruit
  • Sea salt and freshly cracked blacked pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter (optional)

To make the brine, stir the brine ingredients together until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add 1 ½ cups cold water and stir. Cool completely.

Trim excess fat from the chops and reserve. Immerse the pork chops in the brine making sure the meat is submerged and chill for four to six hours.

Remove the chops from the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking to bring to room temperature. Heat a cast iron or non-stick skillet to medium high. Melt the reserved pork fat in the pan. Pat the chops dry with a paper towel and place them into the pan. Save the vanilla bean for your sauce and discard the brine.

Tip: to sear any meat, once you’ve placed it in the pan, don’t be tempted to move it. The meat will stick but as the natural sugar in the meat begins to caramelize, it will form a crust. Once a rich brown crust has formed, flip the meat and finish cooking just until 160˚ for medium. Remove, place on plate and tent with foil to rest for ten minutes.

While the meat is cooking, bring a small pot of water to boil and prepare a bowl with ice water. Peel the peaches by carving an X just through the skin. Drop them in the boiling water just until the X starts to curl, about 30 seconds. Drop the peaches in the ice water to stop the cooking. Peal and cut into thick slices and set aside.

Make the sauce: Pour off most of the fat leaving a tablespoon or so. On low heat, sauté the garlic just until tender. Add the wine and reserved vanilla bean and simmer to reduce by half scraping up the bits of meat stuck to the pan. Add the stock, honey, and jam and simmer until the sauce is a syrupy glaze. Add the peaches and cook just until the peaches are warmed through. Turn off the heat and swirl in the cold butter. Season to taste. Serve the sauce over the Pork chops.           

  • If you’ve got leftovers, slice the pork and warm it with the peaches and some BBQ sauce for a great sandwich!

*Recipe adapted from Nancy Oaks