My Pork Chops with Maple Apples are brined in maple syrup and apple juice and pan seared to perfection. They are then topped with caramelized maple apples, for an unforgettable sweet and savory combo!
Southern Pork Chops
As someone who absolutely loves breakfast, even I occasionally feel uninspired by the same old breakfast meats. Bacon, sausage, ham, maybe the occasional steak; I've made them all. Then, I remembered one of my favorite Southern delights: Pork Chops with Apples.
If you've ever been to The Waffle House or Cracker Barrel, you've seen pork chops them on the menu. Breaded, grilled, smothered, or pan fried, pork chops are just plain delicious!
Breakfast Pork Chops
I've often eaten pork chops for breakfast. Quite a few, not to brag. They're a staple in the South. Breakfast pork chops are thin. As thin as you can find. This makes them cook up faster than any other breakfast meat, bringing breakfast to your mouth that much quicker. In order to bring tons of flavor to chops that cook in less than 5 minutes, let's brine them!
What is brining?
Brining is the process of submerging a meat in a liquid containing salt. Over time, the salt, bringing its best friend, liquid, with it, increases the flavor, moisture, and tenderness of your meat.
The brining process contributes not just moisture to your meat, but highlights any other seasonings or flavorings that you add to your brining liquid.
In the case of my Breakfast Pork Chops, instead of water, I use apple juice. In addition to salt, I add maple syrup for sweetness, and rosemary for an herby note.
The apple juice and maple syrup not only make your pork chops delicious, they help the meat caramelize while it cooks. Since these chops cook for such a short time, this is the best way to get some color on your chops without overcooking.
- Apple juice Apple juice is 88% water, but that means the rest of it is made of appley goodness, and everyone knows that apples and pork chops are BFF's. Have apple cider? It brings even more apple flavor.
- Maple syrup Real maple syrup, not the fake corn syrup stuff, brings a smoky sweetness to your chops that screams breakfast. It also contributes in another important way: Normally a pork chop cooked for just 5 minutes would be a bit pale. Delicious, but pale. Here, the natural sugars in the maple syrup (and the apple juice!) allow your pork chops to take on some color, even as they cook quickly.
- Salt Salt carries its seasoning, piggybacked on the apple juice, into every fiber of the meat, ensuring a delicious bite, every bite.
- Rosemary This is the perfect hardy herb to compliment the flavors of pork, apple, and maple. What a combo! This is an optional ingredient that I highly recommend.
- Ice Ice as an ingredient? Yes! The ice not only cools down the brine (so you don't accidentally cook your meat in it), but it also brings all the salt and sugars to the correct ratio for proper brining. Don't skip the ice!
- Make the brine Place the apple juice, maple syrup, salt, and rosemary in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, until the salt is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and pour the ice into the brine. Stir until all the ice has melted.
- Brine Place the pork chops in a zip top bag, or a shallow container with an airtight cover, and pour the brine over top. Seal the container and place in the refrigerator for at least one hour, or up to 12 hours.
- Pat Dry In order to get a good sear on your chops in a short time, the surface of the meat must be dry, otherwise you'll just end up steaming them. Place your brined pork chops on a paper towel lined small sheet pan and pat dry with more paper towels.
- Season Discard the paper towels and season both sides with salt and pepper.
- Pan fry Heat a 12 inch cast iron skillet, over high heat. Add oil and pan fry your chops for about 2 minutes on each side. Set aside on a plate and let rest 5 minutes.
How do I make the Maple Apples
Dice two apples, I prefer envy or honeycrisp apples, into a ¼ to ½ inch dice. In the same skillet that you cooked your pork chops, melt butter over medium heat. Add apples and cook, turning often, until golden brown on the edges, about 5 minutes total.
Stir in syrup and salt; reduce heat to low. Simmer until apples are soft, about 5 minutes. Serve warm on top of the rested pork chops.
What can I serve with these chops?
- Biscuits My Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits are the perfect vehicle for carrying a piece of these pork chops to your mouth. Cut a piece of chop and nestle it right into the flaky layers and... It's just too much. You must try it. And a pork chop biscuit sandwich on a long road trip is one of life's great joys!
- Eggs I just love to drag a piece of my pork chop through a runny egg yolk! I swoon.
- Potatoes There's something to be said for "the perfect bite". For me, it's a hunk of one of these pork chops, a bit of yolky egg, and a couple of slices of my Crispy Sheet Pan Potatoes. Uh oh. Swooning again. Prepare my fainting couch and smelling salts.
- Cheesy grits These pork chops with apples are perfection on top of cheesy grits. Chef's kiss 😘
Pork chops make for a great dinner! If preparing these chops for dinner, try adding a bit of black pepper and a smashed garlic clove to the brine for a more savory preparation. Because you might like a larger portion for dinner, I would recommend chops at least ½-1 inch thick.
At that thickness you will want to brine your chops for at least 8 hours. Placing your pork chops in the brine in the morning will allow the meat to take in all the flavor while you go about your day, knowing delicious pork chops await!
(P.S. Serve your dinner chops with my Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole. You can thank me later!)
More recipes featuring pork
- Chorizo and Potato Tacos
- Ham and Swiss Buttermilk Biscuits
- Freshly Ground Breakfast Sausage
- Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes with Ham
Pork Chops with Maple Apples
- 4 bone in pork chops about ¼-1/2 inch thick
- ½ cup apple juice
- ½ cup real maple syrup
- 1 tbs kosher salt
- 1 sprig rosemary optional, around 3-4 inches long
- 1 cup ice about 235 grams
- 2 medium apples
- 2 tbs maple syrup
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- In a small saucepan, combine apple juice, maple syrup, and kosher salt. Add one sprig of fresh rosemary if desired. It is delightful.
- Bring to a simmer until salt is dissolved. Remove from heat and add in 1 cup of ice. Stir until the ice is completely melted. It should feel cool to the touch.
- Place pork chops in a zip top bag, or shallow airtight food container, and cover with the brine. Place in the refrigerator for a minimum of one hour, up to overnight. The thicker the chop, the longer you will need to brine.
- Remove pork chops from brine and discard remaining brine. Place chops on a paper towel lined sheet pan and pat dry with more paper towels. Season with salt and pepper.
- Heat a 12 inch cast iron skillet, or other heavy-bottomed pan, over high heat. Add ½ tablespoon of neutral oil and place pork chops in the pan. Sear for 2-3 minutes on the first side, or until the chops begin to turn golden brown. Flip the chops and finish cooking for 90 seconds - 2 minutes on the second side. Let rest 5 minutes.
- Serve with eggs and potatoes, or biscuits.
Making maple apples
- Peel and dice your apples into ¼ to ½ inch dice.
- In the same skillet that you cooked your pork chops, melt butter over medium heat. Add apples and cook, turning often, until golden brown on the edges, about 5 minutes total.
- Stir in syrup and salt; reduce heat to low. Simmer until apples are soft, about 5 minutes. Serve warm on top of the rested pork chops.
The nutritional and caloric information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It does not assert or suggest that readers should or should not count calories, and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s or doctor’s counseling.