For the brine:
- 2 quarts cider, plus 1/2 cup for gravy
- 4 bay leaves
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 star anise
- 1 strip orange rind studded with 2-3 cloves
- 1 small onion, quartered
- 5-6 peppercorns
- 5-6 juniper berries (optional)
- 8 - 10 cups ice (optional)
- 6-8 large, bone-in pork chops
- Flour for dredging, plus 4 tablespoons
- 3-4 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 6 medium onions, sliced
- 1 large bay leaf
- Salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup brandy, Calvados or dry sherry (optional)
- 4 cups chicken stock (32 ounces)
Add the brine ingredients to a stockpot and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve sugar and salt, then remove from the heat to cool completely. To quickly cool, add ice to the hot brine.
Brine the chops overnight in the fridge, then remove from the brine and pat dry. Coat the chops in flour. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven and brown the chops in batches over medium-high heat, 3-4 minutes per side. Remove to a plate.
Pre-heat the oven to 325ºF.
Melt the butter into the pork chop drippings and add the onions, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Cook to tender, 12-15 minutes; sprinkle in 4 tablespoons flour and stir for a minute more. Deglaze the pan with brandy or sherry, if using. Slowly stir in 1/2 cup cider, then the chicken stock. Stir to combine. Slide the chops back into the sauce and cover. Roast for 1 1/2-2 hours, until very tender.
Serve with potato pancakes, mashed potatoes or creamy polenta alongside.