Roasted Pork Chops, Apple Butter

In recent years, kale has become a superstar vegetable. When you pair it with bacon, it only gets better. To avoid overcooked, dry pork chops, we marinate ours in a flavorful brine with juniper berries and black peppercorns (note that you’ll need to plan ahead, up to overnight, for the brining). The pork chops are cooked au jus, or in their own juices, as we cooked the Lemon and Thyme Roasted Chicken Breast here. Taking off from a pork-chops-and-applesauce theme, we finish the dish with a dollop of apple butter for concentrated apple flavor.

Oven Roasted Pork Chops with Apple Butter, Cider-Braised Kale, and Pork Jus
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  1. ¼ cup kosher salt
  2. ¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
  3. ½ cup boiling water
  4. 3 cups cold water
  5. 2 teaspoons juniper berries
  6. 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  7. ½ head garlic, halved crosswise
  8. 4 sprigs thyme
  9. 4 bone-in, center-cut pork chops, ¾ inch thick
  10. 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  11. 1 medium onion, chopped
  12. ½ cup white verjus or dry white wine
  13. 1 cup brown chicken stock, store-bought or homemade
  1. 2 slices smoked bacon, diced
  2. 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
  3. 1 pound lacinato kale, thick stems removed, roughly chopped
  4. ⅓ Cup apple cider or apple juice
  5. 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  6. Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  7. 1 cup store-bought apple butter
  1. In a large bowl, combine the salt and sugar. Add the boiling water, stirring until dissolved.
  2. Then add the cold water and 1 cup ice cubes to cool down the mixture.
  3. Add the juniper berries, black peppercorns, garlic, and thyme.
  4. Place the pork chops in a zipper-lock bag.
  5. Pour the brine over the pork chops and seal the bag.
  6. Place the bag in a bowl and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  1. Heat a large saucepot or Dutch oven over moderate heat.
  2. Add the bacon and cook 15 minutes or until crisp.
  3. Remove the bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper-towel-lined plate.
  4. Drain all but 1 teaspoon of fat from the pan.
  5. Add shallot and sauté 3–4 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
  6. Add kale and cook 5 minutes or until wilted, stirring frequently.
  7. Add apple cider and vinegar; cover the pan and cook 7–8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  9. Crumble the bacon and stir it into the kale.
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  2. Place a rack in the lower third of the oven.
  3. Remove the chops, discard the brine, pat the chops dry, and season both sides with salt and pepper.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large, heavy skillet, preferably cast-iron, over moderately high heat until foam subsides.
  5. Add the pork chops and brown, turning once, about 4 minutes on one side, 3 minutes on the other. Transfer the chops to a large, shallow baking pan that can hold the pork in one layer.
  6. Place the pork chops in lower third of oven and roast until the internal temperature reaches 150°F, 12–15 minutes.
  7. While the pork chops roast, make the jus.
  8. In the same skillet, add the onion and remaining tablespoon butter to skillet and cook over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until golden brown and tender, about 6 minutes.
  9. Add verjus and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
  10. Boil and reduce until the wine is reduced by half.
  11. Add the stock and cook until the sauce is thickened and reduced by about half.
  12. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, pressing down on the onions with the back of a spoon to get out all of the jus.
  13. Adjust the seasoning and keep warm.
  14. Transfer the pork chops to a plate or cutting board, tent them with foil, and allow them to rest before serving.
  1. Mound the braised kale in the center of each plate. Top with pork chop and a dollop of apple butter. Drizzle with jus and serve with Dauphinoise Potatoes.
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