Brined Pork Chops with Rhubarb and Fig Compote

Brined_Pork_Chops_Rhubarb_Fig_Compote_Cabernet_Balsamic_Wine4FoodIf you want your pork chops (or most white meats for that matter) to be extremely juicy, brining is the way to go.  Adding this step first before searing the chops will garner maximum tenderness.  As for the actual cooking, it’s imperative that you get your pan as hot as possible before adding the pork chops, and not to move them once you’ve laid the first side down. This ensures a deep brown sear with an intense savoriness that balances out the sweetness of the sauce.  While prepping takes a bit of time, it’s quite simple and the end result is well worth the wait!

Prep time: 3 hours
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves 4

Brine
4 cups water
⅓ cup sugar
⅓ cup kosher salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
Juice and zest of one medium grapefruit
⅛ cup whole black peppercorns
4 thick cut bone-in pork chops

Rhubarb Fig Compote
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
4 ounces dried black mission figs, quartered
3 cups rhubarb, chopped
1 cup California Cabernet
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Directions

For the brine: pour water into a large container, then add sugar, salt, garlic, peppercorns, grapefruit juice and zest. Stir well until sugar and salt dissolve, then place the pork chops in brine and cover. Place the container in the refrigerator for at least four hours, preferably overnight.

Remove pork chops from the brine and pat dry on both sides with paper towels. Allow chops to sit uncovered in order to come to room temperature, about 20 minutes, occasionally patting the surface dry of any moisture.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook the garlic and shallots in olive oil until translucent, then add figs and chopped rhubarb. Cook while stirring occasionally until rhubarb softens, about five minutes. Add the California cabernet, cover, and simmer for five-seven minutes until rhubarb has broken down. Stir well and simmer uncovered until the sauce thickens slightly, then remove from heat and stir in balsamic vinegar. Keep warm.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Set a large ovenproof skillet, preferably cast iron, over high heat. Season the pork chops generously with salt and pepper. Brush the bottom with a bit of neutral oil, like canola or vegetable, then add the pork chops. Sear without disturbing for five minutes, then flip the pork chops and put the pan into the oven. Cook for five minutes, then check for doneness with a meat thermometer. Continue to cook to medium, about 140 degrees. Set the pork chops aside to rest for at least five minutes before plating. Serve topped with warm fig rhubarb sauce. Enjoy!

Suggested Wine Pairing: Valley of the Moon Cabernet Sauvignon

Image Courtesy of evgenyb