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Pork Chops with Grilled Apple Puree

Pork chops have a tendency to dry out on the grill, but brining them beforehand is the secret to adding moisture and extra flavor. Many varieties of tart apples are available year-round and when they are brushed with melted butter and spices and grilled, they become a perfect complement to the pork.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups water 
  • 3 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar 
  • 2 Tbs. granulated garlic or 5 garlic cloves, crushed into a paste 
  • 2 or 3 bay leaves 
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh rosemary, plus 4 sprigs for garnish 
  • 5 allspice berries or 1 tsp. ground allspice 
  • 1 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste 
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste 
  • 4 bone-in or boneless loin pork chops, each about 3/4 inch thick 
  •   

For the grilled apple puree: 

  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter 
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar 
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon 
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg 
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice 
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom 
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves 
  • 4 to 6 tart white-fleshed apples, such as Granny Smith, Gala, or Gravenstein, about 2 lb. total, peeled, cored and quartered 
  • 2 Tbs. Calvados or other brandy 

Directions:

In a saucepan over high heat, combine 2 cups of the water, the brown sugar, garlic, bay leaves, rosemary, allspice, the 1 tsp. salt and the 1 tsp. pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Add the remaining 2 cups water, transfer the brine to a large nonaluminum container and refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.

Add the pork chops to the cold brine and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the apple puree: In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. When the foam subsides, stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cardamom and cloves. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir until the mixture is fragrant and the sugar has melted, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the apples and Calvados and stir to coat.

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill. Brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the apples on the grate or in a vegetable-grilling basket over the hottest part of the fire. Grill, turning often, until caramelized and soft, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool, then transfer to the bowl of a food processor.

Working in batches, process the apples until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings: the apple puree should be highly spiced. Transfer to a saucepan and keep warm on the grill or stovetop, or let cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, remove the pork chops from the brine; discard the brine. Pat the chops dry with paper towels and season on both sides with salt and pepper.

Brush and oil the grill grate. Grill the pork chops directly over medium-high heat until nicely grill-marked, about 2 minutes. Turn the chops over and grill until nicely grill-marked and cooked to your liking.

Transfer the pork chops to a platter, top each with a heaping spoonful of the grilled apple puree and garnish with the rosemary sprigs. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma On the Grill, by Willie Cooper (Oxmoor House, 2009).