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Quick-Brined Pork Chops with Fruit Compote and Smashed Potatoes

To enhance the flavor and keep them moist, these chops get a quick soak in a brine infused with warm spices and a hint of heat, then they’re cooked on an indoor grill. Paired with a fruit compote, they’ll be a hit on your autumn table.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups room-temperature water
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 3 Tbs. pure maple flakes
  • 6 Tbs. kosher salt
  • 4 cups ice water
  • 6 boneless pork chops, each about 8 oz. and 3/4 to 1 inch thick
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup diced dried apricots
  • 3/4 cup apple cider
  • 3 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 3 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
  • Smashed potatoes for serving (see related recipe at left)

Directions:

In a small saucepan over high heat, combine the room-temperature water, star anise, 2 of the bay leaves, 1 of the cinnamon sticks, the thyme, red pepper flakes, black peppercorns, maple flakes and salt. Bring to a boil, then transfer to a large bowl and add the ice water. Submerge the pork chops in the brine and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the dried cranberries, cherries, apricots, apple cider, brown sugar, the remaining bay leaf and cinnamon stick, the cayenne and apples and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 8 minutes. Uncover and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated, 2 to 4 minutes more. Discard the bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Serve the fruit compote warm or at room temperature.

Place the grill plates on both sides of a Cuisinart Elite Griddler. Set to 375°F and preheat to “sear.”

Remove the pork chops from the brine, rinse and pat dry. Drizzle the olive oil over the chops and rub evenly on both sides. When the griddler reaches the sear temperature, place the chops on the grill. Cook for 2 minutes on sear, then continue cooking at 375°F for 5 to 6 minutes more. Turn the chops over and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the chops registers 145°F, 6 to 8 minutes more. Transfer the chops to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with the fruit compote and smashed potatoes. Serves 6.

Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.