Pork chops are a great cut for grilling, but because they are so lean, they can easily dry out. Brining them adds flavor and also helps ensure a moist, tender result. Add a sprinkle of chopped red onion over the fruit, if you like, for a nice counterpoint to the stone fruit’s sweet flavor.
Brined Pork Chops with Grilled Stone Fruit
For the brine:
- 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1 tsp. juniper berries (optional)
- 1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 2 Tbs. kosher salt
- 1 Tbs. freshly ground black pepper
- 6 bone-in pork chops, each at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick
- Olive oil for brushing
- 6 ripe but slightly firm plums, peaches or nectarines, halved and pitted
- 1/4 red onion, finely chopped (optional)
1. To make the brine, in a large bowl, combine 6 cups (48 fl. oz./ 1.5 l) water, the vinegar, sugar, thyme, juniper berries, red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper and stir until the sugar and salt dissolve.
2. Place the pork chops in a large sealable plastic bag and pour in the brine. Seal the bag, massage the brine around the chops and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
3. Remove the chops from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before grilling. Discard the brine, rinse the chops briefly in cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
4. Prepare a medium-hot fire for indirect grilling in a charcoal or gas grill; the temperature inside the grill should be 350° to 375°F (180° to 190°C). Brush and oil the grill grate. If using a charcoal grill, bank the lit coals on either side of the grill bed, leaving a strip in the center without heat, and place a drip pan in the center. If using a gas grill, preheat the burners, then turn off 1 or more of the burners to create a cooler zone.
5. Place the chops over the direct-heat area and sear, turning once, until nicely grill-marked on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Move the chops to the indirect-heat area, cover the grill and cook until the chops are somewhat firm to the touch, about 15 minutes for medium, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into the center of a chop away from the bone registers 145°F (63°C).
6. Transfer the chops to a platter and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, brush the cut sides of the fruit halves with oil and grill over the direct-heat area until nicely grill-marked, about 2 minutes on each side. Serve the pork chops with the grilled fruit on the side. Sprinkle the red onion over the fruit, if desired, and serve immediately.
Couples will find inspiring ideas for everything from weeknight suppers to Saturday dinner parties in our Newlywed Cookbook.