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. We last featured this meal in 2020.
Smarts: 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, all-purpose - 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.