Delicious, thick Pork Chops with Peppercorn Sauce are one of my favourite ways to enjoy a pork chop dinner!
Why I Love Pork Chops with Peppercorn Sauce
This easy pork chop recipe is one of my favourites! The awesome peppercorn sauce is plate-licking good and it’s perfect flavour with pork chops. It’s also very tweak-able, by switching up the wine (or omitting it altogether, if you prefer) and adding as much pepper as you’re comfortable with.
When it comes to pork chops though, I quickly learned that the secret to a great pork chop is to brine them. Brining pork chops in a salt/water solution, changes the cellular structure of the meat, resulting in a more tender finished pork chop. And if you’re ever dug in to a pork chop and found it a bit like shoe leather, you’ll appreciate that!
I’ve never been much of a briner, but I’ve discovered the benefit that this simple preparation step can have on pork chops, so I try to plan for a little brine whenever pork chops are on the menu.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Pork Chops – nice, thick, centre-cut pork chops are always nice, though you can make this recipe with any pork chops, bone-in or boneless. Only the cooking time will change.
Peppercorns – you can use black peppercorns, or a mixture of red, green and black if you happen to have that on hand. Starting with whole peppercorns allows for larger bits of pepper. Do be sure to crush the peppercorns though. You can use a mortar and pestle if you have one or if not, put the peppercorns in a little zipper bag and whack them with a rolling pin. Don’t whack too much though. You don’t want powdered pepper. You really just want them not to be whole. Large pieces are fine. Adjust the amount of pepper in the sauce to your taste.
Wine – As mentioned above, you can vary the wine depending on what you have on hand. White or red is fine, or even some nice dry Marsala wine works well. Same with the broth choice. I prefer chicken broth with white wine, myself, but beef broth (especially with red wine) is also nice.
Cream – Dairy free? This sauce is still lovely without the cream at the end, so if you’re avoiding dairy (or just don’t have cream on hand), just skip it!
How to Brine Pork Chops
My basic formula for a brine is 1/4 cup kosher salt with 4 cups water. I like to add a bit of sugar to mine, as well (to balance out the saltiness). In order to get the salt and sugar to dissolve, you’ll want to mix them first with boiling water, then cool it down with some cold water. So here’s how it breaks down then …
1/4 cup kosher salt (or 2 Tbsp fine table salt)
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 cups boiling water
2 cups cold water
Dissolve the salt and brown sugar with 2 cups of boiling water, then add 2 cups of cold water to the mixture, which will cool it. Check the temperature of the brine and be sure your brine is not too warm when adding your meat. Allow to cool a bit more if necessary.
Add brine to a container deep enough to hold all the brine and allow you to submerge your pork chops. You may need to put a weight on top to keep them down in the brining liquid. Cover with plastic or foil wrap and always refrigerate while brining.
How Long to Brine Pork Chops
The ideal time to brine nice 1-inch + thick chops would be about 8 – 10 hours, so perhaps you start the brining process in the morning for that evening’s’ dinner. That’s the ideal and as we all know, things don’t always go as planned. So know that you can brine for as little as 30 minutes, if that’s all the time you have to work with. A little brining is better than no brining. On the other end of the spectrum, it is not recommended to brine your pork thick chops any more than about 12 hours. Large cuts of pork (such as a pork loin roast) can brine longer, but smaller cuts are best kept under 12 hours. Thinner pork chops should ideally brine about 4 hours.
What to Do After You Brine Your Pork Chops
Once your pork chops have brined, rinse several times to remove any surface salt and dry well. Allow to stand at room temperature for 10-15 minutes, to come to room temperature. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and cook. If you like, you can dredge your pork chops in flour, which will give your fried pork chops a nice crust and colour.
Add Some Flavour to Your Brine!
If you like, you can replace some of the water in your brine with other liquids to add flavour to your pork chops, such as beer, cider, wine or vinegar. You can also add fresh herbs to the brining liquid, such as rosemary, sage, thyme etc. For this peppercorn pork, a few peppercorns added to the brining liquid would be a great idea.
- While I’m sold on the benefits of brining my pork chops, it’s an optional step. As noted above though, if you can squeeze in even a short brining time (even 30-45 minutes), it’s worth it.
- If you own a cast iron skillet, it should definitely be your cooking pan of choice for this dish :)
- Don’t forget to salt your sauce at the end. While pepper is the star here, the sauce needs a good salting to really round out the flavours.
Get the Recipe: Pork Chops with Peppercorn Sauce
- 2 bone-in centre cut pork chops, one-inch thick and brined if you like *See Notes
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons butter
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1/4 cup shallots or onion, very finely chopped
- 2 - 3 teaspoons crushed peppercorns, from whole black peppercorns
- 1/4 - 1/3 cup red or white wine, or dry Marsala wine
- 1 cup chicken or beef broth
- 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 - 3 thyme sprigs, or about 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1/4 cup heavy cream, or lighter cream and add more thickener (can omit for dairy-free)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
To thicken gravy (add only as much as needed):
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 Tablespoon cold water
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Heat olive oil and butter in an oven-proof or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Pat dry pork chops and season with salt and pepper. Scatter flour on plate and dredge pork chops lightly on both sides. Sear chops in hot skillet until lightly golden on both sides. Pop the skillet with pork chops into preheated oven and cook until pork reaches 135F, about 10-12 minutes (depending on thickness of chops). Note that this is a little undercooked because it will cook a bit further on the stove-top and a bit more as it rests, so it will get to the recommended 145F in the end.
- Remove from oven and place over medium-high heat on the stove-top. Quickly brown the chops on the stove-top, then remove to a plate to rest.
- In the hot skillet, melt the 1 Tbsp butter, then add the onions and peppercorns. Cook, stirring, until onions are golden, about 1 minute. Add wine and cook, stirring until mostly evaporated, about 1 minute. Add broth, Dijon mustard and thyme sprigs. Reduce to medium heat and allow sauce to simmer/reduce for a few minutes. Add cream and stir in. Taste sauce and add salt, as needed.
- To thicken gravy, make a cornstarch slurry by combining the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Add a bit at a time to your hot gravy, stirring, until desired thickness is achieved.
- Spoon hot sauce over pork chops. Finish with a generous grind of freshly ground black pepper.
Thank you for the recipe. It was delicious and I’m so glad I did the brine!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Kim :) Thanks so much!
Jennifer you are such a gracious host….it’s so nice that you respond to each and every question…..I’m looking forward to making this recipe for dinner tonight..
Thanks Donna :) Enjoy the pork chops!
I am going to be making this some time this week, but not sure which day. Can I brine the pork chops dry off and store in the fridge until ready to prepare?
Hi Lana and yes, it shouldn’t hurt them at all to do it that way :) Enjoy!
Made these last night with thick-cut loin chops. The sauce is amazing. I did use Bourbon (being from the South and all) and added extra dijon. I also finished the sauce with a pat of butter at the end. A keeper recipe for sure!
Sounds lovely, Andrea :) Thanks so much!
great recipe. Peppercorn sauce is my favorite. Any way you prepare it is fine. There are a few German recipes like this one that are also fantastic. Adding brandy instead of wine is also delicious. I love to see your ideas. Thank you!
Thanks Bill :) It’s a favourite of mine, as well!
This was so good! Only change, since I didn’t have heavy cream, I subbed sour cream, so didn’t need the cornstarch. Also it tempered the ‘spiciness’ of the peppercorn (and we love spicy) since (my mistake) I put in 3 ‘tablespoons’ of peppercorn instead of teaspoons. I did brine the thick pork chops & once out of oven put them in gravy to finish off for about 15 minutes. They were so tender we cut them with a fork. Excellent!!!
So glad you enjoyed it, Karen, despite the extra pepper (I have totally done that, too :) Thanks so much!
Can this dish be made 1 day ahead?
Can this dish be made 1 day before and warmed up?
Hi Lucy, I think you could. Undercook the pork slightly and don’t slice it. Make the sauce. Store the sauce and pork separately. Re-warm the sauce in a suacepan. Rewarm the pork wrapped in foil in a 350F oven until warmed through. Slice pork and spoon sauce over-top. All that said, I’m thinking that the time it will take to re-warm it may be equal to just making it fresh :)
I’m making these tonight. Can I just brown them in a skillet then add them to an oven safe dish and add the sauce to it instead of in and out of the pan twice? I’m afraid to overcook
Hi Rose, you will develop the best flavour by making the sauce last, but that said, if you want to try it, omit the thickener (cornstarch and water) and do that last on the stove-top (it only take a minute to do that part).
Can you make the sauce without the heavy cream?
Hi Stefani and yes, you absolutely can (and I sometimes do :)
Can you make the sauce w/o cream?