Perfectly seared cranberry maple pork chops and the most important tip to keep your pork chops juicy! Gluten free and made in one pan in under 30 minutes!
We’ve done pumpkin. We’ve done apples. Now it’s time to complete the fall food favorite trifecta with some cranberries. And in case cranberry isn’t fall-centric enough for you, we’ll throw in some maple glaze as well.
Cranberry maple pork chops. Gluten free, made in one pan, in under 30 minutes. Need I say more?
I probably don’t need to say anymore, but I’m going to anyway.
I’ve waxed poetic about brining pork chops before, and I’m going to do it again. Brine! Your! Pork! Chops!
Seriously, it is a game changer. Think pork chops are too tough and chewy? Think again, friends.
I made these recently for my mother, who asked for my pork chop secret because the texture was so ideal. No secret here – it’s all about the brine.
If I’m going to wax poetic about brining, let’s get down into the nitty gritty with my favorite subject. That’s right, it’s time for a little… kitchen chemistry!
Brining solution is salty. Because the brine is saltier than the cells in the pork chop, the salt ions diffuse into the cells. Suddenly, the inside of the cells has a higher salt content than the outside. So how does this keep our meat from drying out? Because of osmosis (remember THAT from high school chemistry?)! In osmosis, solvent (in this case, water from the brine) moves from an area of low concentration to an area of high concentration. The salt is moving into the cells, and when it combines with all the other solutes in the cell (you know.. all the ions and things that are naturally in cells, like potassium, magnesium, and calcium), the concentration of solutes is much higher inside the cell than outside. So now the cells start to absorb the water from the brine and pull it into the cell.
Phew! Did I lose you there? I hope not. Sorry, I’m a biochemist and a food blogger, so the intersection of science and food really excites me! But really, all you need to know is that brining = perfectly juicy pork chops. Yay, science!
How do you brine pork chops? Easy! Make a salty solution, add any aromatics you might want, and set it aside in the refrigerator for a little while. Brine your chops for at least a few hours (overnight is best), pat ’em dry, and then pan sear them. Congrats; you’re halfway to a plate of cranberry maple pork chops!
Now, let’s talk about this cranberry maple glaze, guys. We got a bunch of fresh cranberries from our CSA just when I was planning on making this again to photograph. Talk about perfect timing!
I used fresh cranberries because I had them, but you can also use frozen. Or you can buy lots of fresh cranberries now when they’re easy to find, and freeze them yourself for later! (Note to self: buy fresh cranberries.)
We’ll cook the cranberries in some chicken broth, maple syrup, and mustard until they’re all nice and soft and juicy. Cranberries are naturally pretty tart, so maple syrup is the perfect complement, and something about pork and mustard just goes so well together. Once the cranberries are nice and soft, coat the pork chops in some of the cranberry liquid, then serve with the sauce.
These perfectly in-season, fall festive cranberry maple pork chops are on the table in under 30 minutes. You just can’t beat that, can you?
Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine