Pork Chops with Maple Black Pepper Sauce

I was making dinner the other night and I was throwing out options to the boyfriend and this recipe came up. His response was “I would never say no to a pork chop”. As well you shouldn’t, pork is delicious in all of its forms, especially the chop one. This is a recipe that I came across awhile ago and filed away in my e-mail (I am a super huge fan of Gmail being searchable; it makes my life so much easier). The sauce was a really nice combination of sweet, vinegary, and spicy. It really complimented the pork well.  Surprisingly, I did not modify this recipe one bit. It was delightful.

Original recipe here at Seriouseats.com

Ingredients:

2 bone-in, thick cut pork chops (about 1 inch thick)

1 Tbs olive oil

¾ Teaspoon whole black peppercorns (see note)

1 tsp kosher salt

1 medium shallot minced

1 Tbs fresh thyme leaves

2  1/2 Tbs cider vinegar

1/4 cup maple syrup (Grade B or Dark Amber)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Season chops well with ¾ tsp of the salt. Pour the oil into a large oven proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chops. Sear the chops for 4-5 minutes on each side until the look like this (don’t even think about flipping them before 4 minutes or you will get a crappy sear and you WILL be sad).

Carefully transfer the skillet to the oven and cook until their internal temp reaches 145 F, about 2-4 minutes (yes, this is a safe temp, keep reading). When chops have reached temp, remove them from oven. Remove the chops from the skillet and place on a serving platter, cover with foil (this will also allow them to cook a little bit more and reabsorb their juices).

Place the skillet back on the stove and turn the heat to medium-high. Add the shallot, thyme, and the rest of the salt. Cook until the shallot is beginning to brown, about 2 minutes.

Pour in the vinegar and deglaze the pan with a wooden spoon to dislodge any browned bits (aka the yummy parts). Reduce heat to a simmer and let reduce for 2 minutes. Then add the maple syrup and crushed black pepper.

This is how coarse you want the pepper

Return to a simmer and cook for 8 minutes.

Serve the sauce over the chops.

A few notes:

If you over cook this sauce, or you cook it at too high of a temp, it WILL turn into maple syrup candy. Mind your temperature and keep it on a low simmer (it should be reducing not boiling). Also 7-8 minutes is plenty, even if it seems a little soupy. While I’m not opposed to pork in candy, this is not the time for that.

The recipe calls for whole pepper corns, which you will obviously need to grind. If you have a coffee grinder dedicated to spice grinding, I would recommend using this and producing a coarse grind. If not (like me) I emptied out my pepper grinder into a bowl, added the ¾ tsp, set it to the coarsest grind, and ground away. The main point of this is using fresh ground pepper, peppercorns are full of oils and as soon as they are ground they start releasing these oils (thus losing their potency) so please, don’t use store bought ground pepper, you won’t get the same effect of the spiciness in the sauce.

You must use real maple syrup in this recipe, any other fake syrups will not work. Don’t get me wrong, I do not hate on a little Aunt Jemimah on my pancakes, but for cooking, use the real stuff.

-Sue

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