Cider-Brined Pork Chops with Apple Jelly Glaze



Grilling season may be on the wane, but this is still apple season, so try this recipe before the snow covers the grill. This recipe comes from Adam Perry Lang’s book, Serious Barbecue, pages 40-41. And Lang is serious; especially when it comes to flavor. He makes the point of using every opportunity to add layers of flavor to the dish. In this case there are three layers: (1) the brine; (2) the seasoning; and (3) the glaze put on at the end. For this pork recipe the results are excellent.

Brine:

1 tbsp crushed hot red pepper flakes

2 tbsp boiling water

2 cups apple cider

2 cups water

½ cup kosher salt

½ cup honey

10 garlic cloves, peeled, halved, germ removed, and grated on a Microplane grater

Eight 1½-inch thick pork rib chops, 8 to 10 oz. Each

Seasoning Blend:

2 tbsp mild chile powder, preferably Ancho, Chimayo, or Hatch

1 tbsp sweet (Hungarian) paprika

1 tbsp firmly packed dark brown sugar

¾ tsp dry mustard

¾ tsp smoked (Spanish) paprika

½ tsp garlic salt

½ tsp coarsely ground fresh black pepper

½ tsp kosher salt

¼ tsp Old Bay Seasoning

Glaze:

½ cup apple jelly

1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ Granny Smith apple, peeled. Cored, and grated on a Microplane grater

¼ cup finely chopped chives

1. Place the pepper flakes in a small bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Let sit for 1 to 2 minutes to rehydrate the flakes. Combine all the remaining brine ingredients in a blender or in a bowl, using an immersion/stick blender. Stir in the pepper flakes and the soaking water.

Place the chops in an extra-large resealable plastic bag (or divide between two large bags). Pour brine over the chops, squeeze out any excess air from the bag, and close. Roll the bag to evenly coat all the meat with the brine, and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.

2. Preheat one grate of a well-olied charcoal or gas grill to high and another to low.

3. Combine all of the seasoning blend ingredients.

Place all of the glaze ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake to combine. Set aside.

4. Remove the chops from the brine, letting any excess brine remain in the bag. Lightly pat dry with paper towels.

Sprinkle the seasoning blend evenly on all sides of the chops.

Using your hands or a brush, evenly but lightly, coat with canola oil.

5. It is preferable that the chops be moved to a clean area of the grate when flipped during the initial charring. Depending on the grill size, they may need to be cooked in batches to ensure there is a clean portion of the grill to flip to.

Place the chops on the high grate, and keeping the lid open, do not move the chops until they are well marked and lightly charred, about 3 minutes. Flip, still over high, with the lid open, and repeat on the second side, grilling for about 3 minutes.

Move the chops to the low grate, and close the lid. Open the lid every few minutes, flipping, jockeying, and stacking throughout the remaining cooking time.

Cook about 8 minutes for medium, about 10 minutes for medium well, and 12 minutes for well-done. The chops will continue to cook as they are glazed.

Give the glaze a quick shake to reincorporate any ingredients that may have settled. Brush with the glaze on the first side, flip, and brush on the second side.

6. Remove the chops from the heat and let rest for about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle with chives and serve.

Serves 8.

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