For the longest time, the Foodie Groom insisted that he didn’t like pork chops. Early on, I took “I don’t like [fill-in-the-blank,” at face value. He didn’t need a second mother, after all. But when I was staring down a killer deal on big, thick pork chops, I asked why he didn’t like pork chops. “They’re too tough.”
Oh, honey! An easy problem to fix, that is! (And it’s too bad you weren’t standing in HEB with us. You would have heard my terrible Yoda impression.)
I always look for pork chops that are at least 1 1/2 inches thick and I always, always, always brine pork chops. The meat is tender and juicy. The only thing “tough” on pork chop night is the “seconds or dessert” decision.
It doesn’t take much to brine pork chops, either. You need salt, water, and herbs/seasoning. And time. I usually brine pork chops overnight, or at the very latest, I’ll put the brine together after breakfast for dinner that night.
I’ve made these pork chops for dinner four times in three weeks. Yep, four times. I serve the juicy and slightly spicy pork chops over a mound of grits – the sweet and sour (agrodolce) sauce soaks into the salty Parmesan grits. It’s pure harmony on a dinner plate. The Foodie Baby cannot get enough of those grits!
I learned the first time that you need to make the sauce first – it has to cool pretty substantially before it thickens. Otherwise it’s pretty runny and not nearly as fun to eat.
Spiced Pork Chops with Agrodolce Sauce
Juicy Pork Chops with a sweet and sour sauce.
- For the pork chop brine
- 12 cups cold water
- 1/2 rounded cup of kosher salt
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1 tsp black pepper corns
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 4 pork chops, 1 1/2-2 inches thick thick
- For the pork chops
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup honey
- 3 green onions, sliced
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 4 brined pork chops (recipe follows)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil (or cooking spray)
- Red pepper flakes
- Black pepper
- Parmesan and Truffle Butter Grits (recipe follows)
- For the Grits
- 2 cups water
- 1 cups quick-cooking grits (not instant)
- 2/3 cup finely grated Parmesan
- 2 Tbsp black truffle butter*
- Add salt and molasses to water in a large non-metal bowl or enameled dutch oven, stirring until thoroughly mixed.
- Strip the leaves from the rosemary sprigs and roughly chop.
- Add sprigs and leaves to brine mixture. Add peppercorns and pork chops.
- Cover tightly and refrigerate up to 24 hours.
- Remove from the brine and pat the pork chops dry before preparing.
- Preheat oven to 425.
- In a small sauce pan, stir together balsamic vinegar, honey, white and light green parts of the onions, and garlic over medium-high heat.
- Bring to a boil and let cook for ~10 minutes, reducing heat as necessary to prevent boil overs.
- Remove from heat, stir in butter until melted, and set aside to cool and thicken.
- Heat olive oil or cooking spray over medium-high heat in an oven-safe pan.
- Liberally season both sides of the pork chops with red pepper, salt, and black pepper.
- Sear for 3 minutes, flip pork chops, and finish in the oven to an internal temp of 150.
- Remove and let rest in the pan for 5 minutes.
- Serve over Parmesan and Truffle Butter Grits, topped with a generous spoonful of agrodolce sauce.
- Bring water to boil over high heat in a small sauce pan. Stir in grits, reduce to medium heat, and cover. Cook for 5 minutes. Stir in cheese and butter until melted. Season to taste. Serve hot/warm.
Yields: 4 servings