Apple Cider Brined Pork Chops with Molasses Glaze and BBQ Sauce

When we drove into the church parking lot, we noticed that everyone on the front two rows was backed in. Doc laughed and said, “I thought people liked being here, looks like they want a quick escape!” After church he noticed someone he knew, getting into one of the backed in cars. He asked the fellow, “Why do you back in?” The man replied,  “You know those church people, they won’t ever let you out!”

Apple Cider Brined Pork Chops with Smoked Bourbon Molasses Glaze and BBQ Sauce

Apple Cider Brine
3 cups apple cider
1 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 cup ice
2 (6 inch) sprigs rosemary 
2 (6 inch) sprigs thyme
3 sage leaves
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
4 (1-inch thick) bone-in pork loin chops, center cut
Apple chips soaked in water for 1 hour then drained.
Smoked Bourbon Molasses Glaze (recipe below)
Garnish: Your favorite BBQ Sauce  

In a large stockpot, heat apple cider, water, brown sugar, and kosher salt until sugar and salt dissolve. Remove from heat and add 1 cup ice cubes. Stir in rosemary, thyme, sage, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Add pork chops. Use a plate to weigh down the chops to keep them submerged in the brine. If necessary, add more water to make sure pork chops are submerged. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. No more no less! (I tested for 30 min, 1 hour, 2 hours, and 3 hours. The 1-hour had the best flavor and texture) 

Remove from brine. Dry chops with paper towels. If you don’t have a smoker that’s fine just use your charcoal or gas grill. Heat grill to high, place apple wood chips in a smoker chip box or an aluminum pie pan with holes poked in the bottom. When the wood chips begin to smoke, grill chops over high heat, searing both sides to make grill marks. 

When the chops reach 140ºF, brush smoked bourbon molasses glaze on chops (recipe below). (Divide glaze into two bowls. Use half of the glaze while grilling, save the other half to garnish the cooked chops). The glaze will caramelize on the chops. Cook until a meat thermometer reads 145ºF. The pork will be slightly pink, don’t worry! Remove from grill and let chops rest 10 minutes. Top with additional smoked bourbon molasses glaze and your favorite warmed BBQ sauce. Makes 4 Pork Loin Chops.Enjoy!

Smoked Bourbon Molasses Glaze
1/4 cup high quality bourbon 
1/2 cup sorghum molasses (If you can’t find sorghum molasses use blackstrap molasses. Blackstrap flavor  is strong. Decrease the amount to 1/3 cup)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

While chops are cooking; smoke bourbon: pour bourbon in a small disposable pan (I used an aluminum mini loaf pan). After wood chips begin to smoke, place pan with bourbon on grill grate. Cover with grill lid and heat for 5 minutes, (some of the bourbon may evaporate).  Add smoked bourbon to molasses and cider vinegar. Whisk until combined.

Published in The News and Neighbor on October 19, 2022.  

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