Gluten Free Maple Brined Pork Chops Recipe
I remember once going into a beautiful, expensive restaurant in California with some really good friends almost giddy with the anticipation of having a delicious meal and some great wine with the fabulous company. I hadn’t checked out the restaurant ahead of time and it turned out there were only two main dishes on the menu that were gluten-free, one was fish and the other was a pork chop dish. I was leery of ordering the pork chop but the waitress assured me their chops were juicy and flavorful so I went for it. It arrived looking gorgeous; thick, glossy and promising succulence.
Unfortunately, like a Hollywood set facade, the beauty was deceptive. It was dry and flavorless and the fact that it was huge made it seem even worse as now there was just way too much of not-a-good-thing.
As I have mentioned before, the secret to making moist, flavorful pork chops is brining. For a simple explanation of why brining is the answer you can take a look at this post. Or you can just take my word for it!
Pork and maple have a natural affinity for each other which makes brining chops with maple a pretty brilliant idea. Personally, I love the flavor of maple but I have two problems with it. First is that it sends my blood sugar on a chaotic roller coaster ride with a few moments of bliss followed by sinking into a deep sugar coma. The second is that when it is cooked it seems to me to have a bitter, almost metallic, after-taste. Some people don’t get that with maple but for some reason I am pretty sensitive to it. So instead of using pure maple syrup for my pork chops I use Wholesome! Organic Maple Blue Agave from Wholesome!. It tastes like maple but it is agave, all that wonderful maple flavor without the wild ride!
I like to use those great big, bone-in, center-cut pork chops but this recipe will work just as well with those cheap, skimpy little things you find on sale, just adjust the cooking time.
If you have time, make your brine in the morning, let the chops hang out in the fridge while you are at work and when you get home you can grill them up in less than 15 minutes. You can brine the chops anywhere from 1 to 12 hours but no more than 12.
If you have dreams of the perfect pork chop, try this recipe. You can thank me later.
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons Maple Flavored Agave Nectar - use divided
- 1 cup kosher salt
- ¾ cup Sucanat or sugar
- 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard - use divided
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary - minced
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 6 cups water
- 2 cups ice
- 4 center-cut loin pork chops (approximately 1 inch thick)
- Olive oil for brushing the chops
Combine 1 cup Maple Flavored Agave Nectar, salt, Sucanat or sugar, 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard, rosemary and black pepper with the water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Take off the heat, stir in the ice. Pour the brining liquid into a large plastic storage bag or into a glass baking dish deep enough to hold the chops. Add the chops and refrigerate for between 1 and 12 hours.
Heat a grill pan or skillet over medium heat until hot. Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons Maple Flavored Agave Nectar with the remaining teaspoon of Dijon mustard.
Remove the chops for the brining liquid, rinse with cold water and pat dry. Sprinkle some black pepper on each side of the chops and brush with oil. Place the chops on the hot pan and cook 4 – 5 minutes per side depending on the thickness of the chops. Brush the cooked chops with the Maple Flavored Agave Nectar/Dijon Mustard sauce. Let the chops rest for 5 minutes and serve.
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