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Brined pork chops with cider pan sauce and fried capers

Michael Graydon/The Globe and Mail

Servings: 6

Ready time: 6½ hours ( including brining time)

Ingredients

3 quarts water

½ cup kosher salt

¼ cup brown sugar

2 cloves garlic, smashed

1 bay leaf

6 10-ounce (283-gram) bone-in frenched pork chops

¼ cup capers, drained and patted dry

¼ cup neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed

Freshly ground pepper to taste

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

¼ cup apple cider

¾ cup brown chicken stock

1 tablespoon cold, unsalted butter

Method

To prepare brine, bring water, salt and sugar to a boil in a large pot. Reduce to a simmer, add garlic and bay leaf and stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Cool completely. Pour into a large non-reactive container, add pork chops, cover and refrigerate for 6 hours.

About 1 hour before mealtime, remove pork from brine, pick off any seasonings and pat dry.

Preheat oven to 375 F. While pork warms to room temperature, fry capers. In a small saucepan, heat neutral oil over medium-high heat. Add capers and fry, stirring often, until they crisp and open up like flowers (about 45 to 60 seconds). Using a slotted spoon, remove capers and drain on paper towels.

Set aside until ready to serve.

Season pork on both sides with pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in each of two large, ovenproof skillets over medium-high heat. When hot, place 3 chops in each and sear, undisturbed, until browned (around 5 minutes). Flip chops and cook for 3 minutes more. Transfer skillets to oven and roast until pork reaches an internal temperature of 145 F (around 8 to 10 minutes).

Remove pork chops to a warm serving platter and loosely tent with foil.

Combine vinegar and apple cider in a measuring cup. Pour off excess fat from skillets, but retain drippings. Heat skillets over medium-high heat.

Divide cider mixture between the two skillets and deglaze, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Pour liquid from one pan into the other, setting aside empty pan. Stir stock into the skillet with the cider mixture and cook on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until reduced to ½ cup (around 5 minutes). Turn off the heat, add butter and stir until melted; the sauce should look glossy and thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve pork chops drizzled with pan sauce and sprinkled with fried capers. Offer any remaining sauce in a small jug at the table.

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