Maple Hickory Brined Pork Chops, Oven Fried Green Tomatoes, Heirloom Tomato Gravy

My guiltiest food pleasure (other than gooey processed cheese sauce) is pork. I love everything from chops to loin to butt to belly. Every time Ames requesst a meal on the weekends it usually has something to do with beef or tuna so I was pleasantly surprised when she requested pork chops. I think I actually squealed with delight and while she was out at the farm rehearsing a few songs, I stopped in a Herman’s Quality Meat Shop in Newark for a couple of bone-in pork chops. I called ahead because Saturdays there can get a bit busy so I didn’t see the chops until I unwrapped them latter at home. The chops were the prettiest cut of meat I think I’ve ever seen! They were perfect little morsels of pork goodness! I decided to use a Maple syrup and smoked Hickory salt brine and although they only brined for about three hours, the pork chops were amazingly tender and juicy. I don’t think I will ever buy pork from anywhere but Herman’s from now on.

Note: by FDA guidelines pork is cooked thru and safe to consume at 145 degrees. If that temperature is still too outside your comfort zone then cook to 155 degrees but bare in mind that anything above 155 degrees is going to render your pork dry, rubbery, and basically inedible.

Maple Hickory Brined Pork Chops


2 bone-in pork chops

1 cup water

1 can Red’s Hard Cider, or any cider of your choice

3 tablespoons Maple syrup

3 tablespoons Hickory smoked salt

2 tabs of butter

1 tablespoon fresh tried herbs, such as Thyme, Oregano, or Rosemary

Salt and pepper to taste


In a sauce pan over med heat, dissolve the maple syrup and smoked salt in one cup of simmering water. Once dissolved, remove from heat and allow to completely cool. In a non-reactive container with a lid add in the pork chops, the maple hickory brine, and the can of hard cider. Cover and transfer to the fridge and brine the chops at least an hour to overnight. Half an hour before you intend to cook the pork chops remove them from the brine, rinse, and allow the chops to sit out to dry and reach room temperature for about 30 minutes. Discard the brine. In a cast iron skillet or fry pan, bring the pan’s temperature up until the pan is smoking hot over high heat. Salt and pepper both sides of the chops and sear on both sides over high heat about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Once seared, reduce the heat to medium and add in the butter and herbs. Baste the chops an additional couple of minutes with the butter until the chops reach an internal temperature between 145 and 155 degrees. Remove the chops and allow them to rest about 5 to 10 minutes. Garnish the chops with the remaining herb butter from the pan.

Oven Fried Green Tomatoes with Heirloom Tomato Gravy


2 medium sized green tomatoes, sliced in  1/4″ or so thick slices

1 cup of All Purpose flour

1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika

1 teaspoon Garlic powder

1 teaspoon Onion powder

1 egg

1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

about 1 cup Masa flour

Salt and Pepper

about 1 teaspoon of Coconut oil

Heirloom Tomato Gravy, recipe follows


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Set up a 3 bin breading station with one mixing bowl for the flour, one for the egg wash, and the last one for the Masa flour. Season each. Mix the flour with the garlic and onion powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper and mix until well combined. Whip the egg in a large bowl with the water and Tabasco sauce until well combined. Mix the Masa flour with salt and pepper until well combined. You can use any seasoning combination you prefer. To bread the green tomatoes, first lightly coat in the seasoned flour, then dip into the egg allowing excess to drip off, and then coat completely in the Masa flour. Set the breaded green tomatoes on an oiled baking rack positioned on top of a baking sheet. Top each of the tomatoes with a tiny dollop of coconut oil and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Flip the tomatoes and bake an additional 20 or so minutes. Continue baking and flipping the tomatoes as needed until they are crisp and the breading is golden brown. Serve immediately and garnish with Heirloom Tomato Gravy.

Heirloom Tomato Gravy

1 tablespoon rendered bacon fat

1 tablespoon all purpose flour

3 to 4 Heirloom tomatoes, chopped

about a cup of water

1/4 teaspoon Garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste


In a cast iron skillet or sauce pan, make a roux by combining the bacon fat and flour over medium heat. Cook about 2 minutes then stir in the remaining ingredients and bring up to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce heat and continue to simmer occasionally smashing down the tomatoes with a wooden spoon until it’s a thick gravy, about 20 to 30 minutes. Adjust seasonings as needed. Serve over green tomatoes, buttermilk biscuits, mashed potatoes or anything you like really.


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