Make Ahead

Cider Brined Pork with Calvados, Mustard and Thyme

November 20, 2009
2 Ratings
  • Serves 2
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

Test Kitchen Notes

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&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 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.
Contest Entries

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  • Laura Mulry
    Laura Mulry
  • SimplebySara
  • Bevi
  • jifferb
  • Manhattan Tart
    Manhattan Tart
I am a father of five, who recently completed a two year professional hiatus during which I indulged my long held passion for cooking by moving to France to study the culinary arts and immerse myself in all things French. I earned “Le Grande Diplome” from Le Cordon Bleu, studied also at The Ritz Escoffier and Lenotre cooking schools, and completed the course offerings of the Bordeaux L’Ecole du Vin. About six months ago started "Oui, Chef", which is a food blog that exists as an extension of my efforts to teach my children a few things about cooking, and how our food choices over time effect not only our own health, but that of our local food communities and our planet at large. By sharing some of our cooking experiences through the blog, I hope to inspire other families to start spending more time together in the kitchen, cooking healthy meals as a family, passing on established familial food traditions, and perhaps starting some new ones.

62 Reviews

Laura M. February 12, 2016
Could I use brown mustard seeds instead of yellow? Or should I just skip the mustard seeds if I don't have yellow?
Oui, C. February 13, 2016
Brown seeds would work just fine, hope you enjoy the dish! - S
Andrew S. December 15, 2015
Made this tonight for dinner. I hate making changes to recipes I'm trying for the first time, but like the others, I switched out the Calvados for Apple Jack because the only bottle of Calvados I could find cost $70. A little rich for my blood. But it turned out fantastic. I loved both the pork chops and the sauce. My girlfriend wasn't crazy about the pork but, but she loved the sauce and still ate the pork chops because of it. That's how good this sauce is. Thanks for this recipe. It'll be used again.
SimplebySara September 10, 2015
Great recipe! Would love to share a better photo with you that I took of the dish....
Bevi April 1, 2015
I made this for dinner tonight. Delicious! Thanks for a great recipe!
Oui, C. April 1, 2015
Thanks, Bevi! Glad you liked the dish.
Claudia December 7, 2014
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.
Oui, C. December 9, 2014
So glad it worked for you, and you're right, spuds LOVE that sauce!
lisavanin November 8, 2014
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!
Oui, C. November 10, 2014
Awesome...glad you liked it!
jifferb March 18, 2014
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!
Oui, C. March 19, 2014
WOW....sounds like a pretty FAB menu, wish I was there! So glad the dish was a hit, thanks for letting me know.
Manhattan T. February 20, 2014
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.
Oui, C. February 23, 2014
So glad you liked the dish and happy to see you make it your own with some smart modifications.
sharon September 30, 2013
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 ...
Rebecca C. October 22, 2013
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!!
crispylikechicken December 22, 2012
This was my first pork-chop experimentation and it was delicious =) Thanks for a great recipe!
jess C. November 23, 2012
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.
Oui, C. November 24, 2012
Spoon + sauce = glad you liked the dish, thanks for letting me know.
neverenoughtime September 26, 2012
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)?
Oui, C. November 24, 2012
Yes, I think that should work just fine.
worstkase September 20, 2012
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++!
Oui, C. September 20, 2012
So glad you liked it, and thanks for reminding me about this recipe...'tis the season!
David M. April 15, 2012
This was delicious. The only Calvados we could find was over $40 a bottle. We used Applejack instead. It was still fantastic.
Oui, C. April 17, 2012
Hey David, glad you liked the dish....thanks for letting me know.
ahstone November 3, 2011
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.
Ms. T. October 30, 2011
I posted about my spin-off of your recipe on my blog:
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.
911granny September 25, 2011
Do you always need to use so much salt in the brine? Would love to "brine" but every recipe has so much salt,
singing_baker September 21, 2011
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!
Oui, C. September 21, 2011
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
roryrabbitfield January 28, 2011
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?
Food52 February 6, 2011
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scgoble January 28, 2011
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.
Oui, C. February 1, 2011
Jim Beam and apple juice...what a lucky 2 year old! Glad you like the dish and thanks for your kind words. - S