Maple-Brined Pork Chop with Pan Sauce
and Brussels sprouts / bulgur
Brining pork chops in maple syrup and salt infuses them with a balance of sweet and salty flavors and tenderizes the meat before cooking.
Smarts: This is the first time we've tried brining in a meal plan, but it can be a great tool. An hour of brining should be about right for most pork chops, but feel free to adjust the time if using very thin or thick chops. It's important to rinse the pork chops well after brining to remove any excess salt before cooking, so don't skip that step. If you're short on time, just skip the brine and season the pork with some salt and pepper.
- Maple syrup - 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp
- Salt - 2 Tbsp
- Water - 2 cups
- Pork chops, boneless or bone-in - 4
- Stock, any type - 1 cup
- Mustard, Dijon - 1 Tbsp
- Thyme, dried - 1/2 tsp
- Red pepper flakes (opt) - 1/4 tsp
- Oil, cooking - 1 Tbsp
- Butter - 2 Tbsp
- Flour - 1 Tbsp
- Brussels sprouts - 1 lb, halved
- Fennel (opt) - 2 oz, diced
- Garlic - 2 cloves, chopped
- Oil, olive - 1 Tbsp
- Lemon juice - 2 tsp
- Bulgur, uncooked - 3/4 cup
- Brine pork - In a shallow baking dish or bowl, whisk together first portion of maple syrup, salt, and water until salt is mostly or completely dissolved (it’s okay if a few granules remain). Add pork chops and turn to coat in brine. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Cook bulgur - (If prepping right before cooking, get oven heating first.) Combine bulgur with 2x the amount of water (or use stock if you prefer) in a saucepan. Add in some salt. Bring to a boil covered. Lower heat, keep covered, and cook until liquid is absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
- Brussels sprouts / Fennel / Garlic - Prep as directed. Store Brussels sprouts in one container. Combine fennel and garlic in another container. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
- Prepare pan sauce - Whisk together stock, second portion of maple syrup, mustard, thyme, and red pepper flakes. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
- Heat oven to 425F / 218C.
- Toss together Brussels sprouts, fennel, garlic, and olive oil. Spread out on a sheet pan. Roast until Brussels sprouts are tender, 18 to 22 minutes (depending on the size of the sprouts), shaking the pan halfway through cooking.
- While Brussels sprouts roast, drain brine off of pork chops. Rinse pork chops well (to remove excess salt). Then pat the pork chops dry with paper towels (they will brown better if very dry).
- Heat a large skillet with cooking oil over medium heat. Add pork chops and sear on both sides for 3 to 4 minutes. (Reduce heat if needed to prevent burning; the sugar in the maple syrup can increase the chances of burning.) If the pork chops are thin, this may be enough to cook them through. If they are thicker, reduce heat to low-medium, cover with a lid or foil, and continue cooking until done. (Pork is done when it reaches 145F / 73C.)
- Set pork chops aside and let rest, covered, for 5 minutes.
- Keep skillet on the stovetop over medium heat. Add butter. When butter melts, whisk in flour until no dry spots remain. Pour pan sauce into skillet while whisking, scraping up any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Simmer sauce, whisking frequently, until thick, 3 to 5 minutes.
- When Brussels sprouts are finished, toss with lemon juice.
- If bulgur was cooked ahead, reheat in the microwave.
- Slice pork and serve over bulgur with sauce drizzled over top. Enjoy with Brussels sprouts on the side.
I really liked this! We never made gravy, so the pan sauce felt indulgent.0 Helpful
This was fine. Just fine. I expected so much flavor out of all the work I did, but I was surprised by how meek it was. I added quite a bit of salt along the way and we ended up adding quite a bit of salt at the table, too.0 Helpful
I don’t even eat pork, but I cook it for my family on occasion. Everyone loved it! I subbed mashed potatoes for bulgur and roasted broccoli in place of Brussels sprouts, as I knew those substitutions would play better to my audience. The pork got rave reviews, though.0 Helpful
Fantastic sauce! The brining also made the pork chops sooo juicy. This meal was definitely worthy of guests, but maybe a bit involved for a standard weeknight meal. Might sub the side for maple carrots (or parsnips!) next time to cut down prep.0 Helpful
This was really great, kids loved it. I'm not sure how the fennel makes a difference in taste in the brussel sprouts, but was fun to try something new.0 Helpful
The brining with maple syrup came through in the flavor. The sauce was amazing! Loved the fennel in the Brussel sprouts. While I wouldn’t crave this in the summer, it was a perfect fall meal!0 Helpful