Maple-Black-Pepper Pork Chops

This song came on during my commute to work this morning, and it has, thus far, completely made my day.

I realized, as I was bopping along to this, that I actually like my commute. I’ve always been fond of transition spaces–airports, trains, waiting rooms–spaces that have no other function than to hold you while you wait for something to end or something to begin. And that’s essentially what my commute is, especially in the morning. The traffic isn’t too bad, the scenery is varied and interesting, and I have half an hour of just time, maybe the only moment like it in my day. I move from the northside of Chicago to the southside, over a tangle of highways, streets, neighborhoods, buildings, and people.

September itself is a transition; it starts out in summer, but by today, the last of it, it is undeniably not. Not lazy, not gluttonous, not warm. The leaves are starting to change, I’m wearing a jacket every day, the air is crisp. I love the brightness of the light and the chill of the breeze. I love roasting vegetables and picking apples and making pies. But, still–I’m not entirely there yet. I’m still in the transition stage. I look up and see that it’s the last day of September and I think I’ve been driving too fast, moving through the months so quickly. I’m just about ready for this season, but part of me misses summer.

I’m trying, though. I made this the other day, and this recipe is most certainly a fall recipe, with maple as its dominate flavor. It may sound overly sweet, but it’s really not. The shallots, thyme, and black peppercorns round it out. I served this with roasted butternut squash and poured the sauce over the whole shebang. With a light endive salad to add a crispness, this was a perfect fall meal.

Maple Black Pepper Pork Chops

2 bone-in, thick-cut pork chops
1 tbsp. olive oil
3/4 tsp. whole black peppercorns, crushed
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 medium shallot, minced
1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
2 1/2 tbsp. cider vinegar
1/4 c. maple syrup (Grade B or Dark Amber)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, season the pork chops well with 3/4 tsp of salt. Pour the oil into a large ovenproof skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the chops when the oil is warm, and cook for four or five minutes on each side, until they are well browned.

Flip the chops, then carefully transfer the skillet to the oven. Cook until their internal temperature reaches 145 degrees, just a few minutes, depending on thickness of the chops. Set the chops aside and cover loosely with foil.

Place the skillet back on medium-high heat. Sautee the shallot with thyme and the rest of the salt until the shallot becomes transluscent.

Pour in the vinegar and scrapte the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to dislodge any browned bits. Reduce heat to a simmer, and let reduce for 2 minutes. Then add the maple syrup and crushed black pepper. Return to a simmer and cook for 8 minutes.

Serve the sauce over the chops.


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About Kate Soto

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