For the brine:
5 cups water
1 tbsp fennel seed, crushed
2 bay leaves, crumbled
1 tbsp peppercorns
2 sprigs rosemary
3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
6 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp coarse salt
For the chops:
(2) 10-oz. to 12-oz. boneless center-cut pork chops, about ¼ to 1½ inches thick, brined
1 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 large garlic clove, peeled and halved
1 sprig rosemary
6 or more PEPPADEW® peppers
To Brine: Place 1 cup of water in a small nonreactive pot and add the fennel, bay leaves, peppercorns, rosemary, and garlic. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat. Cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes. Add remaining 4 cups water, sugar, and salt and stir until dissolved and the mixture is well combined. Rinse and pat dry the pork chops and place in a clean bowl. Pour the brine over the chops and place a plate on top to keep the chops submerged. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
Take pork chops out of brine, rinse thoroughly under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Place an 8-inch cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil to the pan, and when it starts to shimmer, add pork chop. Sear the chops until crusty brown, about 6 minutes on each side. Check the pork as it cooks, and be responsive. Due to the sugar content, the brine may begin to burn, so just move the pork around in the pan a bit. And that knob on your stove turns for a reason, so adjust the heat if you need to.
When you get a good sear on both sides, add butter to the pan. When it begins to brown, lower the heat to medium-low and add the garlic, rosemary, and PEPPADEW® peppers. Tilt the pan and baste the pork chops with the butter for about 1 minute. The chops should be firm to the touch, but still with a bit of give. Remove pan from heat and transfer chops to a small cooling rack, letting them rest undisturbed for about 5 minutes. This simple step lets the proteins relax and reabsorb moisture, distributing the meat’s juices evenly throughout. It might be the best 5 minutes you’ve ever spent.
Place the chops on a plate and top with the peppers and pan juices. If your skillet is too small, moisture from the overcrowded meat turns to steam and prevents surface browning, which is the main benefit of pan-roasting. If the pan is too large, the oil will spread out as it heats and burn. Because you’re cooking at a high temperature, you need oil with a high smoking point — the temperature at which it starts to give off smoke. Although it might make you feel fancy, don’t use extra-virgin olive oil. It burns too quickly for this kind of cooking.
While a chop on the bone is preferable, on a stove, the meat closest to the bone — although it’s the sweetest — won’t cook to the same temperature. So boneless center-cut chops a little more than an inch thick are ideal. PEPPADEW® peppers from South Africa adds that sweet slightly spicy flavor.