Makes: 4 servings 4 pork chops 1/2-inch thick 1/4 cup kosher salt 1/4 brown sugar 2 pints (32 ounces by weight) apple cider 32 ounces by weight ice 1 bunch sage, whole (stems and all) 1 ounce vegetable oil 1/4 cup minced shallots 1 cup heavy cream 1/4 cup apple brandy 1/4 cup grainy Dijon mustard 1/4 cup smooth Dijon mustard 1/2 cup minced crimini mushrooms salt and pepper Mix the brandy and half the cider in a container and set aside. In a large pot, heat the rest of the cider, salt, brown sugar and sage and bring to a boil. Boil for five minutes. Place the ice in a large pot or container and pour the hot brine into it. Stir the brine until it becomes cold (it's OK if all of the ice melts). Place the chops into the brine for 2-3 hours. Remove chops from brine, dry with paper towels and set aside. Heat a large pan over medium heat and add the oil. Pat the chops dry one last time, salt and pepper them and add to the pan. Cook five minutes per side. If you have to do the chops in two batches make sure not to burn the bottom of the pan. Remove chops from pan, turn heat down to medium low and add shallots and cook for a minute or until they start to turn translucent. Add the mushrooms and cook until they start to soften. Add the cider and brandy mixture and turn the heat up to high. Bring to a boil while scraping all of the brown bits off of the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Reduce liquid by 3/4 until cider is almost a syrup. Stir in mustards, cream and mix until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer, turn heat off and add the parsley. Serve the sauce on the side or return the chops to the pan and coat. Serve immediately. Tip: If you have extra sauce leftover then steamed or baked cauliflower is perfect to spoon it over. Potatoes and broccoli work well too.
Photo and styling by John Houser III, for The Baltimore Sun