1 gallon of water
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
1 orange peel, cut with a vegetable peeler
4 medium-size naturally raised pork chops (brined for 5 hours, see below for the brine)
2 cups of dried cannellini beans soaked for 5 hours (can substitute two cans of beans)
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 celery, finely diced
1 apple, finely diced
1/4 cup of double-smoked bacon, finely diced
2 cups of Swiss chard, cleaned and dry
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar (can substitute red wine vinegar)
1/4 cup of Valdeon cheese (can substitute another blue cheese. like Gorgonzola)
6 cups of chicken stock
For the brine: Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and dissolve the salt and sugar, mix with the rest of the water and remaining ingredients. Pour over the pork chops to cover and refrigerate for 5 hours to 12 hours. Remove pork chops and set aside to dry.
For the beans: In a large pot, bring 1 tablespoon olive oil to medium heat. Add bacon and brown thoroughly, about 3 minutes. Add onion, carrot, celery, apple and gently saute without coloring, about 2 minutes. Add vinegar and let reduce for 1 minute. Add beans and chicken stock to cover.
Reduce heat and simmer until stock is absorbed. Continue adding stock as it's absorbed by the beans; cook until beans are tender, about 45 minutes. Once beans are cooked, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, fold in Valdeon cheese and Swiss chard and cook for another two minutes.
For the pork chops: Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Heat two large pans with 3 tablespoons olive oil in each, over medium-high heat. Generously season the pork chops with salt and pepper. Carefully brown the chops, two in each pan, on both sides, then remove to a baking tray and roast in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes depending upon the size of the chop, checking the internal temperature of the chops after 15 minutes with probe thermometer. When the temperature reads 160 degrees, remove from the oven and set aside to rest for 5 to 10 minutes in a warm place. Meanwhile divide beans on four plates and place a chop on top of each plate of beans.
bacon recipe courtesy of: Chef Seamus Mullen, Boqueria, New York, New York | The Today Show, February 4, 2009