Cider Brined Pork with Calvados, Mustard and Thyme

By • November 20, 2009 58 Comments

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Author Notes: This dish was inspired by a meal I had while traveling through Brittany a few years ago. The sugar from the cider brine causes a deliciously sweet caramelized crust on the chops, and the process renders the inside perfectly seasoned and moist. I like the dish with a nice thick chop, but it would also work well with a cutlet, or pork tenderloin. The bite of the mustard, the sweetness of the cider, and the silkiness of the cream make for a well rounded sauce to complement the meat.Oui, Chef

Food52 Review: Oui Chef has proven himself to be an accomplished cook, especially talented at taking a simple concept and elevating it to new heights. Here, he brines thick chops in cider and herbs so that they stay juicy and develop a rich, caramel crust as they sauté. He then constructs a quick pan sauce by building on the ingredients of the brine. Starting with the drippings, he deglazes with Calvados, then adds shallots, thyme, more cider and cream for suppleness. A spoonful of Dijon lends a subtle bite. It may seem like this recipe makes a lot of sauce for two servings, but trust us: you'll be mopping up the last creamy ribbons with your final bite of pork. - A&MThe Editors

Serves 2

Cider Brine

  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme

Chops and Pan Sauce

  • 2 1" thick, bone-in center cut pork chops
  • 1/4 cup calvados
  • 1 shallot, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely minced
  • 1/3 cup apple cider
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place all brine ingredients in a medium saucepan, and stir over low heat until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Place chops in a single layer in a shallow pan, cover fully with brine, wrap and refrigerate overnight. When ready to cook, remove the chops from the brine, rinse well under cold water, and dry with paper towels before continuing.
  3. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of canola oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Season pork with a little salt and freshly ground pepper. Add pork to skillet and sauté until just cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to plate; cover with foil and keep warm.
  4. Pour off excess oil, and deglaze the pan with the calvados over medium heat , scraping the bottom of the pan well, letting the brandy reduce to a glaze. Add 2 tablespoons butter to the skillet over medium heat and add the shallots and thyme, and sauté 2 minutes. Stir in cream and cider; boil until mixture thickens to sauce consistency, about 3 minutes. Stir in mustard, season with salt and pepper, remove from heat and serve with the pork.

More Great Recipes: Pork Chops|Pork|Entrees

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Comments (58) Questions (5)


5 months ago Bevi

I made this for dinner tonight. Delicious! Thanks for a great recipe!


5 months ago Oui, Chef

Thanks, Bevi! Glad you liked the dish.


9 months ago Claudia

I'm always looking for recipes that you get a good start on the day before -- for a quick dinner for friends, etc. Made this in anticipation of a houseguest. It was wonderful. I used a pork loin roast and sliced before brining. I also used Apple Jack because I had it on hand. I served it with fingerling potatoes that also appreciated the sauce.


9 months ago Oui, Chef

So glad it worked for you, and you're right, spuds LOVE that sauce!


10 months ago lisavanin

I made this last night for myself and my partner. The whole time we were eating we were going "mmmmm oh man mmm". Excellent recipe! I will make again for sure!


10 months ago Oui, Chef

Awesome...glad you liked it!


over 1 year ago jifferb

I made this last night for a dinner party - and i am so glad I did - the sauce was ah-mazing. calvados + cream and butter + dijon = heaven. Really so amazing. I paired it with Thirshfield's celery potato gratin and wanderash's not too virtuous salad and it was a huge hit! LOVE this recipe - thank you!


over 1 year ago Oui, Chef

WOW....sounds like a pretty FAB menu, wish I was there! So glad the dish was a hit, thanks for letting me know.


over 1 year ago Manhattan Tart

It's (exceedingly!) rare that I have the forethought -- unless in dinner party mode -- to begin prep for the NEXT night's dinner, but this was requested by my daughter and, in an attempt to affirm ANYONE who ever has ANY idea about what I should make for dinner, I went with it. We're all so glad I did! It had fabulous flavor and came together easily. I used a bigger hit of a combo of grainy mustard & dijon and went a little heavy on the shallots, but otherwise followed the recipe closely. I could see using a glug of another something boozy in place of the calvados if you don't have it in the cupboard, maybe plain brandy? This is delicious, simple and even a bit elegant. Will happily make it again.


over 1 year ago Oui, Chef

So glad you liked the dish and happy to see you make it your own with some smart modifications.


almost 2 years ago sharon

i love this recipe, have all ingredients & looking it over again ... i cook a lot & take meals over to my hard working kids (i'm retired at 55 - wooo hoo - but what do you think? This looks delicious XO but probably won't travel (10 minutes? + serving time??). awww :( I love to cook and take meals, try twice a week to each, my son (alone) & my daughter, cause they work so hard. I feel guilty retired, so I cook for them ...


almost 2 years ago Rebecca Cherry

i think it would travel just fine. cook the pork chops right before you go, wrap them in foil and then make the sauce and put it in a glass dish. it should all stay pretty warm but, if the sauce needs to be heated, again, it'll take slow, low heat just fine. do it; your kids will love you (even though they do already). you could even pack up the chops and all the sauce ingredients measured out and cook it all there. only takes like 15 minutes. plus, i served these chops with the sweet potato/brown butter/arugula side. OMG!!


over 2 years ago crispylikechicken

This was my first pork-chop experimentation and it was delicious =) Thanks for a great recipe!


almost 3 years ago jess cooks

Just made this for dinner - it was delicious!! I didn't get my act together the night before, so I only put the chops in the brine after breakfast and made them the same day. They tasted great, but I'll try remember to brine them overnight next time - and not overcook them (I don't like them as rare as suggested, but left them too long)! I also agree with the other posters - it's the sauce that makes it and I should have made double since I wanted to just eat it with a spoon;) Can't wait to see how the second chop is leftover tomorrow.


almost 3 years ago Oui, Chef

Spoon + sauce = glad you liked the dish, thanks for letting me know.


almost 3 years ago neverenoughtime

I want to make this recipe, but using a tenderloin rather than chops. Should I pan-sear the meat before roasting and then use the pan in which the meat has been seared to make the sauce (adding juices that have accumulated in the roasting pan, minus as much fat as I can scoop off)?


almost 3 years ago Oui, Chef

Yes, I think that should work just fine.


almost 3 years ago worstkase

I made this last night, using regular brandy and doubling the number of pork chops. Still plenty of sauce, and I upped the brine recipe by half. So, so delicious and deceptively easy to make. A++!


almost 3 years ago Oui, Chef

So glad you liked it, and thanks for reminding me about this recipe...'tis the season!


over 3 years ago David Mekeel

This was delicious. The only Calvados we could find was over $40 a bottle. We used Applejack instead. It was still fantastic.


over 3 years ago Oui, Chef

Hey David, glad you liked the dish....thanks for letting me know.


almost 4 years ago ahstone

I tried this but made a basic mistake- I think the chops I used had been injected with brine previously. Brining them in the cider made them ridiculously salty. I'll be more choosy next time I buy the meat.


almost 4 years ago Ms. T

I posted about my spin-off of your recipe on my blog: http://stillsimmering.wordpress...
Hope you don't mind! Let me know if you'd like me to credit you differently--I'm happy to edit as needed. Thanks again for the inspiration! Next time, I will follow your recipe more precisely, as I'm sure it's delicious as is.


almost 4 years ago 911granny

Do you always need to use so much salt in the brine? Would love to "brine" but every recipe has so much salt,


almost 4 years ago singing_baker

I saw this recipe months ago and was counting down the days till I could get some fresh fall cider. My husband and I took one bite each and were floored with how amazing the flavor was. This will definitely be a fall dinner favorite. I am ever considering doing a pork crown roast for Christmas with this brine and sauce!


almost 4 years ago Oui, Chef

Funny you should write this today, because I just picked up my first bottle of cider of the season as well. I'll be making this dish again this weekend. So glad you liked it, thanks for letting me know. - S


over 4 years ago roryrabbitfield

please please please how do i unsubscribe from getting email notifications about additional comments on this and other recipes where i have commented? I do not want to get an email every time a new comment comes in. help?


over 4 years ago Food52

This is from your friendly editors at Food52.

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over 4 years ago scgoble

I have made this recipe twice now, once with a tenderloin and this week with chops. Absolutely amazing both times. This week, I didn't have brandy and used Jim Beam and apple juice - I'm sure that's not what you had in mind but it was delicious anyway! Even my 2-year-old had to make sure that each bite of pork chop had some sauce on it.


over 4 years ago Oui, Chef

Jim Beam and apple juice...what a lucky 2 year old! Glad you like the dish and thanks for your kind words. - S


over 4 years ago artsycella

We made these for dinner a week or two ago, and the pork chops were absolutely divine. My husband and I were actually split on the sauce--I wasn't crazy about it, but he thought it was fantastic. Reading these other comments, I'm pretty sure I'm the weird one out. :D But I would make the brined pork chops again any day.


over 4 years ago Oui, Chef

Glad you like the chops. You can always cut the sauce recipe in half to make just enough for your husband. Cheers - S


over 4 years ago beetific

This is a fantastic recipe! I doubled the sauce recipe for a dinner of eight and there was more than enough to go around. I would recommend serving with something bitter like broccoli rabe or a potato-parsnip puree to balance the sweetness of the sauce. Also next time I will rinse the meat more thoroughly because it stayed quite salty after the brine. I also really appreciate the clarity and simplicity of the instructions--it was very easy to follow and I got the sense that everything had been made as easy as possible. After the party (which included a couple French who are not always that impressed by my cooking!) there was consensus that this meal was the best that I've prepared for friends this year.


over 4 years ago Oui, Chef

Thanks, beetific! Yeah, you really do need to rinse the meat. Drying it well will also help it to achieve a great crust. I love broccoli rabe and I bet it would be perfect with this dish. Impressed some French guests, huh? Well done! - S


over 4 years ago maggiesara

Boy did I love this! I, too, would double the mustard, although nothing stopped me from mopping up every drop of the sauce, without the extra mustard, with my finger. I had it with some pureed butternut squash, and it was absolutely wonderful. Next time I'd add some sauteed broccoli rabe or Belgian endive, a little bitter accent to the sweetness.


over 4 years ago Oui, Chef

Glad you liked it! Broccoli rabe would be perfect with this! - S


over 4 years ago Oui, Chef

I added more mustard (as you suggested) the last time I made this dish, and it WAS BETTER! Thx - S


almost 5 years ago JosieD

Just made this tonight. Used Ice Cider instead of Calvados and had some yummy chops from our meat CSA. So delicious! Wasn't planning on serving bread with the meal but needed to pull a brioche roll out of the freezer to sop up all the wonderful sauce.


over 4 years ago Oui, Chef

This recipe does make a lot of did the only sensible thing. - S


almost 5 years ago KarenO

The chops came out crusty, juicy and done perfectly. The sauce was too sweet for me and I would add more mustard next time. On the other hand, my husband loved it as is and had every last drop of it.


over 4 years ago Oui, Chef glad you and your husband liked it. - S


almost 5 years ago eatyourbeets

Sounds wonderful. Has anyone tried this using milk instead of cream or no cream at all?


over 5 years ago Lizthechef

This looks like a terrific recipe - I won't wait til fall to try it!


over 5 years ago dymnyno

I made this last night with a heritage pork chop (very thick and more fat than other) using this brine, minus the sugar....delicious!!!


over 5 years ago Oui, Chef

So happy to hear you liked the dish. I'm was the crust on the meat with the loss of the extra sugar in the marinade? Was there enough sugar from just the cider to give it a sweet, caramelized crust? Cheers - S


over 5 years ago roryrabbitfield

I want to make this but I don't want to buy a bottle of Calvados; can someone suggest a substitute for that ingredient? Thanks.


over 5 years ago melissav

I just used regular brandy and it turned out well.


almost 6 years ago Maria Teresa Jorge

Congratulations, it's a brilliant recipe.


almost 6 years ago Janneke Verheij

Congratulations! I knew you would win sooner or later, your food is so thought through and it looks delicious. A well deserved trophy!


almost 6 years ago Adriana

I made this tonight--without the brine because I didn't plan ahead--and even without the brine it was delicious. Congrats!


almost 6 years ago TasteFood

Congratulations, Oui Chef! I'm looking forward to trying your recipe!


almost 6 years ago Oui, Chef

Thanks so much!


almost 6 years ago mt97

I made this recipe tonight and it absolutely rocked. Your magic help me turn out the best chop of my life thus far. I could not get over how the apple cider spice permeated the meat. And the sauce...the sauce was both rich and light. My girlfriend would not stop gnawing at the completely stripped rib bones! Kudos to you, chef. Kudos to you...


almost 6 years ago Oui, Chef

Glad to hear you liked the dish, and that your girlfriend was so enthusiastic about it as well. Cheers - S


almost 6 years ago Judith Hesser

I will definitely try this recipe. I love sauces with cream and I especially love recipes without garlic. I generally cook for one or two, so this recipe is perfect for me.


over 5 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Great seeing you on the site!


almost 6 years ago Gale

This one got my vote only because I usually am only cooking for one and am not a big leftover fan. I made this and it was delicious, but think if I had done the braised shoulder (which I definitely will) I'd feel the same about it.

Both read really well and I wish I could have voted for both.


almost 6 years ago dicamp

This sound so good. I'll have to try this .