One of my favorite cookbooks is Food to Live By. While we're not huge fans of pork, I do cook it a few times a year. Here's a recipe we cooked the other night that's one of our favorite pork recipes. They come out really juicy.
Maple-Brined Pork Chops
For the Brine:
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup coarse (kosher) salt
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
10 sprigs of fresh thyme, coarsely chopped
For the Chops:
4 bone-in, center cut pork chops, cut 1¼ inches thick (about 3 lbs)
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1. Make the brine: combine all ingredients with 4 cups of water in a large saucepan. Heat the brine over high heat and stir until the brown sugar and salt dissolve. Remove the pan from the heat. Add 1 cup of ice water. Pour the brine into a glass or ceramic dish large enough to hold the pork chops and refrigerate until chilled.
2. Prepare the pork chops: Place the chops in the brine, making sure the meat is completely submerged. Cover the dish and refrigerate the cops for at least 24 hours.
3. Remove the chops from the brine and discard the brine. Rinse the chops under cold water and dry them thoroughly with paper towels. Brush both sides of the chops with maple syrup. Let the chops sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
4. Position the rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 425 F.
5. Brush the chops with olive oil. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large, oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chops until browned, about 3 minutes per side.
6. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake the chops until they are firm to the touch and temperature reads 145 degrees in the center, 8 to 15 minutes.
7. Let the chops rest for 5 minutes, then serve warm.