We’ve all been confronted with a chewy, over-cooked, disappointing pork chop. Pork has become increasingly lean over the last decades, which is great for the waistline, but terrible for the cook, as there is no fat left to keep the meat tender and juicy. This is where a small amount of preparation can make the world of difference, banishing tough old chops forever.
The secret to juicy pork chops
The secret to super juicy pork chops is brining the meat. Those clever Americans have been doing this for years, but it is only recently that it has become more popular worldwide. There’s loads of interesting science as to how it all works but put simply, giving your meat a little saltwater bath will both tenderise it, and stop it drying out in the pan. It also bumps up the flavour beautifully, as you’ll see in today’s recipe Maple Glazed Pork Chops.
What are Maple Glazed Pork Chops all about?
After a quick dip in the brine, these pork chops are coated in a sticky maple glaze and pan fried. The glaze is sweet and tangy and the combination of Canadian maple syrup and Italian balsamic vinegar is a match made in culinary heaven. It coats the chops and cooks down to a terrific pan sauce.
This is a quick and easy recipe and full of fantastic flavour.
Cook over a medium heat for best results
I say this all the time, but it bears repeating. Cook marinated or glazed meat over a medium heat for best results. We’ve all watched television chefs get frying pans and skillets screaming hot before they put the meat in. While this is tempting (and looks cheffy and dramatic!) when you are dealing with marinated meat it will simply burn. This is because the sugars in the marinade need a lower heat to caramelise beautifully.
Let your pork come up to room temperature before cooking
Especially when dealing with thick chops, it is a good idea to let your meat come up to room temperature or thereabouts before it hits the frying pan. The combination of very cold meat and a hot pan is only going to lead to disappointment, as the outside will overcook, while the inside will be underdone.
It is perfectly safe to let your meat come up to temperature on the counter or work top for half an hour before cooking.
Pork can even be pink!
On the subject of cooking pork, it’s important to know that pork can now officially be cooked to the same internal temperature as beef or lamb. Many of us have been overcooking pork for years, which has why it is so tough. Even the extra cautious U.S.D.A has confirmed that pork can be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F / 62.5°C.
If you are at all unsure about whether your pork is cooked through, I use and highly recommend an Instant Read Digital thermometer, like this one.
What to serve with Maple Pork Chops?
I like to serve these chops with new potatoes and asparagus when it is in season, though if you are in a hurry, a salad and a loaf of good bread would be just as good.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Do I have to brine the Pork Chops?
Not at all, it just helps to keep the meat moist and adds flavour. If you get good quality chops with a good bit of fat on them they are less likely to need brine.
How can I tell if Pork chops are cooked?
The most accurate way is to use a meat thermometer – remove the pork from the pan when the temperature is 62°C / 145°F. The pork will continue to cook as it rests. If you have a very thick cut of meat it will need longer than a super skinny chop. Because you are cooking these chops over medium heat, rather than searing hot, you have a little more lee-way.
How long can I brine Pork chops?
Up to 12 hours in advance. After 12 hours you may find they can be too salty.
Cook the chops over a gentle heat – if you have the pan extra hot the maple syrup will burn.
Allow the chops to rest in a warm place for at least 3 minutes after cooking – this will help to keep them tender too.
Cooking Pork Chops this summer? Don’t Miss…
for the brine:
- 2 Tbsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp peppercorns
- 4 pork chops, bone-in, 2-5cm thick ca. 200g (7 oz.) ea.
for the glaze:
- 75ml (5 Tbsp) maple syrup or honey
- 50ml (3 Tbsp) balsamic vinegar
- 15ml (1 Tbsp) soy sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tbsp neutral oil
- 1 Tbsp butter
- BRINE THE PORK: To make the brine mix the sugar and salt with 125ml (½ cup) of boiling water until dissolved. Pour into a large glass or ceramic dish with 400ml (just less than 2 cups) of cold water. Add the garlic and peppercorns. Lay the pork chops in the dish ensuring they are completely covered with water and refrigerate for ½-12 hours.
- MAKE THE MAPLE GLAZE: To make the glaze combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil, then allow to simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- COOK THE CHOPS: Remove the pork chops from the fridge (at least 15 minutes before cooking if they have been more than ½ an hour in the fridge), discard the brine and pat the chops dry with a paper towel. Heat the butter and oil over medium-low heat in a large frying pan until the butter is bubbling. Lay the pork chops in the pan, spoon over half of the glaze and cook for 4 minutes without turning.
- TURN THE CHOPS: Turn the pork chops over, pour over all the remaining glaze and cook for a further 4 minutes. When the chops are cooked, turn to coat in the sauce, then remove from the heat and allow to rest, loosely covered for 5 minutes.
- SERVE: Serve with boiled new potatoes and asparagus or beans, pour the remaining sauce over the chops just before serving.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4
Amount Per Serving:
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