This recipe includes some of my favorite fall flavors – maple, pork, and Calvados apple brandy. It was born from the desire to combine these flavors in the most delicious way. It’s perfect for autumn nights at home, but is an equally elegant dish for friends. The sauce is rich and silky and complements the pork beautifully, and the salted caramelized apples add an extra touch.
Brining the pork chops keeps them nice and juicy, so don’t skip this easy step. I use Calvados in all sorts of ways – as I would brandy, but for an apple-y kick - but look for small bottles or “airplane” bottles if you wish.
Pork Chops with Maple Calvados Butter Sauce
For the brine:
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt
2 cups apple juice
4 center cut pork chops
For the Sauce:
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons Calvados
1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grade B amber maple syrup
6 Tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
generous dash sea salt
For the Caramelized Apples:
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Granny Smith apple
1 Tablespoon Calvados
3 Tablespoons light brown sugar
Mix the sugar, salt, apple juice and water in a small pan and heat until dissolved. Cool to room temperature. Place the pork chops in an airtight container and pour over the brine. Refrigerate for 4 hours or up to 2 days. Overnight is good if you can manage it.
When ready to prepare the pork chops, finely chop the shallot and add to a saucepan with the olive oil and sauté until soft and translucent. Take the pan off the heat and add the Calvados. Return to the heat and continue cooking until the liquid is almost evaporated. Add the apple juice and bring to a boil. Cook until the juice has reduced and is glossy and syrupy. Add the cream and the maple syrup. Over medium heat, simmer the sauce until it is reduced and almost caramel like. Remove from the heat and whisk the butter in a Tablespoon at a time, allowing the butter to melt and incorporate between each addition. Whisk in the vinegar, and salt to taste. Set aside.
While the sauce is reducing, melt the butter in a skillet and slice the apple. Place the apples in the butter and cook until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes, turning occasionally. Add the Calvados. Sprinkle over the brown sugar and a generous pinch of salt. Sauté until soft and glazed with the sugar. Set aside.
When ready to serve, heat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the pork from the brine and pat dry. Generously pepper the pork. Heat a large oven safe skillet and brown the chops on both sides. Transfer to the oven and bake the chops until a thermometer registers 150 degrees, about 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the pork.
Remove from the oven and tightly cover with foil and let rest for 5 minutes or so. Gently reheat the apples and the sauce. Serve the pork with apples on top and the sauce poured over.