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Beer-Brined Pork Chops with Smoked Blackberry Vinaigrette

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Ingredients

For the brine:

¾ cup kosher salt

¼ cup brown sugar

2 bay leaves

1 bundle fresh thyme

2 cups cold light beer (pilsner or lager)

For the vinaigrette:

1 pint blackberries

1 cup hickory wood chips, soaked in warm water for 1 hour and drained

½ cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

1 cup grapeseed oil (or any light oil)

Salt to taste

For the chops:

4 bone-in pork chops (2 pounds total)

Directions

1. Make the brine: In a small saucepan, combine salt, sugar, bay leaves, thyme, and 2 cups of water and heat to dissolve salt and sugar. Add beer and 2 more cups of cold water. Cool brine to room temperature before pouring over chops. Allow to brine 6 to 8 hours or overnight.

2. Make the vinaigrette: Light charcoal grill and scatter wood chips over hot coals. Spread blackberries on a small sheet of foil in a single layer and place on grate. Close lid and allow blackberries to smoke for 15 minutes. (If using a gas grill, you can put the wood chips on a sheet of foil and lay directly on top of hot grates to produce smoke.)

3. In a blender, puree blackberries, vinegar, and honey on high speed. Reduce speed to lowest setting and pour oil in a steady stream to bind with berry puree. Add salt to taste and refrigerate until needed. Can be made up to 1 week in advance.

4. Grill the chops: Remove pork chops from brine and pat dry. Season with black pepper (they will already have enough salt from the brine). Grill chops on clean grates over medium heat to an internal temperature of 135 degrees (for medium) and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. This will take about 7 minutes per side, depending on the heat of your grill. If you prefer your pork well done, cook to an internal temperature of 155 to 160 degrees. Serve with vinaigrette.

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