Make Ahead

Cider Brined Pork with Calvados, Mustard and Thyme

November 20, 2009
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

  • 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
In This Recipe
  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.
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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.