Not too long ago, I was eating at a restaurant and ordered a Bourbon Glazed Pork Chop. It was quite a workout, to say the least. Tough and dry. I kind of think I might have looked/sounded a bit like this kitty, below. But I wasn’t saying Yum Yum – and I don’t know that this kitty is, either! You won’t have that issue with these Sweet Bourbon Maple Chops.
The whole experience reminded me of how Brining can remedy the whole dry, tough pork chop thing! Even loin chops, or maybe especially loin chops, one of the leaner cuts, can benefit from a little loving care upfront.
About Sweet Bourbon Maple Chops:
Although I wasn’t a fan of that restaurant chop, I liked the whole Bourbon idea a lot. And get this: I’m NOT a Bourbon/Whiskey kinda gal. And to tell the truth, I’m not a big maple lover, either, unless it’s the real deal stuff.
For some reason, I forged ahead and not only made up a brine for these chops using both Bourbon and Maple, I liked the idea enough to make a Sweet Maple Bourbon Barbecue Sauce to slather on top of them!
The result was a succulent, juicy, flavorful chop and raves from the family. Honestly, we plan to make this meal again. And again. And again! And the funny thing is, the final result didn’t taste like Bourbon, and it didn’t taste like Maple. It was just a whole lot of deep, smoky, rich flavor. Now that was a “Yum yum yum!”
Making Sweet Bourbon Maple Chops:
Now there are always those times when ya check out a recipe and you don’t have time for a long brine! I’m here to tell you, even 15 minutes in a brine will help any pork chop. If that’s all the time ya got, that’s all ya got! But know that the longer, the better. For the absolute best results, brine the day before and go 24 hours.
A brine should be cool when poured over the pork chops. Just heat up a small amount of the water, enough to dissolve the sugar in and the rest of the water, cold from the faucet, will make the brine cool enough. That’s a great takeaway for any brine. No need to heat all the liquid and then have to go through heroics like refrigerating the brine or adding ice cubes to it before it can be used.
Cook over medium-high heat for a thick chop like this. If you prefer your chop less or more done, use a thermometer to get your preferred range. The National Pork Board has an excellent post on temperatures along with photos to help you judge.
Storing and Reheating:
Personally, I don’t feel pork chops are usually at their best when reheated; if you’re going to store them in the fridge and reheat them, try using the defrost button on the microwave.
I like to “reinvent” the cooked chop by using it as a building block for another recipe. Check out my post Inspiration and Recipes for Leftover Pork. Whether you have just one, lonely, slightly dry chop in the fridge or you have more to work with, you’re sure to find something useful there!
Saving Money on Sweet Bourbon Chops:
First of all, don’t be fooled by those grocery store specials where 10 chops are on sale for $10.00. These chops vary in size and quality and are pricier than you think. Averaging about 4.5 ounces each they’re around $3.56 a pound.
- Pork Loin Chops: Pork Chops are often expensive in the store, even in the family packs – dirty little secret? Many of the “better” chops, especially the thick ones, are sliced Pork Loin. This is great news – Pork Loin is sold in large packages for 89 to 99 cents a pound at a low, and $1.99 is still a decent price. Precut chops in my store run $4.99 or more per pound, regular price. Put out 12 to 20 bucks and buy a Pork Loin and slice your own chops “to order.” Make an assortment of thicker ones for special meals and thinner ones for quick dinners, package them, and
stack them in your freezer.
- Maple Syrup: I’m a freak for real maple syrup, and will happily take a lesser grade over a big, old jug of maple “flavored” corn syrup. Check out prices at your buyer’s club or discount store. If you wish to substitute, try a little honey, agave, or something similar.
- Booze: Shop carefully for your alcohol and really watch the sales and you’ll be surprised that even the high-end alcohols go on sale for great prices. It’s worthwhile to build up a cupboard or bar using sale-priced alcohol rather than running out and paying regular prices when you need something.
- Condiments: I always pick up a lot of Dijon (and all my other condiments) during the summer holidays when condiments will reach their all-time lows and coupons abound. A second chance always comes around during Super Bowl week.
Sweet Bourbon Maple Chops
- Prep Time: 15 minutes + Brine
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 25 minutes + brine
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Main
- 1 1/2 cups water (1 cup cold, 1/2 cup to be heated)
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 fresh thyme sprig (about 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme)
- 4 pork chops, about 1″ thick (recipe tested with pork loin chops)
- Oil for pan or grill pan, if using
- 1/3 cup of barbecue sauce, preferably Sweet Bourbon Maple Sauce for basting, more for serving
In a medium-sized bowl, heat 1/2 cup water in the microwave. Remove and add brown sugar and salt, stirring until dissolved. Add maple syrup, bourbon, peppercorns, and thyme. Add the remaining cold water.
In a Ziploc bag just large enough to hold the chops and liquid, add the pork chops, then cover with the liquid. Seal and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes, preferably four hours or longer, up to 24.
When ready to cook, preheat grill, grill pan, or skillet over medium-high heat. If using a skillet, use about a tablespoon oil, if using either grilling method, brush grates with oil.
Pat pork chops dry and add to skillet, grill, or grill pan. Using a brush, slather topside using some of the 1/3 cup barbecue sauce. Cook for three minutes and turn, brushing the “new” top side with sauce. Continue to cook 2 to 3 minutes more, to desired doneness, brushing with additional sauce as desired. Discard the remainder of this sauce.
When finished, remove from heat, allow to rest for several minutes, and serve with additional sauce.
Keywords: Alcohol, Barbecue, Barbecue Sauce, Bargain Meal of the Week, bourbon, Brine, Maple Syrup, Pork, pork chops, Pork Loin
You know I’ll be bringing this to our Throwback Thursday #37 Link Party, hosted by Quinn of Dad What’s for Dinner, Meaghan of 4 Sons are Us, Alli of Tornadough, Carlee from Cooking with Carlee and Moi! That’s right – me!
Click over to our Throwback Thursday post for links to their blogs and social media, rules and more info or just click on the blue leapfrog, below, to view all the Throwback Thursday Posts or enter your own!