Eric made this meal. Clara was especially exhausted the evening we had this and ended up asleep on the couch, on me, sometime around 6:00. She dropped her nap before her third birthday, and most days she’s fine, but waking up with the summer sun each morning and playing hard all day takes sometimes takes its toll.
I can’t remember the last time, before the most recent last time, Clara fell asleep on me. Maybe it was because we’d had a busy vacation at the beach or maybe because she had gotten up too early too many days in a row. I don’t really know, honestly. What I do know is that it felt like forever since it happened, and as I lay there stroking her long hair and listening to her steady breathing, I tried to soak in that quiet moment. The thing with children is that you never know when might be the last time they do something. One day she’s saying things incorrectly (but oh so adorably), and then all of a sudden she’s saying them the right way and I can’t remember when she last said them differently. I’m holding on to her “zuh-zert” for dessert as long as I can. I guess that’s parenthood for you.
I had been waiting for peach season to come back around so that we could make this meal again. We first made it this time last year, and it was a summer staple for us. When I spotted pork chops on sale, I knew immediately that we were making this recipe again. The pork chops are brined for prime flavor and juiciness. The blueberry peach salsa is cool and fruity and vibrant atop the grilled pork. It’s seriously the epitome of a perfect summer meal.
I started the brining process that morning, and Eric did everything else. I’m frequently glad that he can hold his own in the kitchen, but I was especially grateful that night because it meant I got to hold my girl, not the cuddly little baby she once was but a child with her long legs draped over mine, while she slept.
For the brined pork:
1½ quarts hot water
3 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 bay leaves
Half a large lemon, sliced
4 (1½-inch thick) pork chops, boneless or bone-in
1 tablespoon olive oil
For the salsa:
1½ cups fresh blueberries
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1 large peach, peeled and finely diced
1 small shallot, finely chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons hot pepper jelly
1 tablespoon olive oil
Combine the ingredients for the brine in a large pot. Stir until sugar and salt are dissolved. Let cool for about an hour. Place the pork chops in a large zip-top bag and place into a bowl or baking dish. Pour the brine over the chops, and refrigerate for 8 hours.
Remove pork chops from brine and discard brine. Let pork stand at room temperature 30 minutes.
Heat grill to 350-400º or prepare a charcoal grill for direct and indirect cooking. Rub the pork with the olive oil and season each side generously with salt and pepper.
Place pork over direct heat and cook, covered with grill lid, about 4 minutes on each side. Transfer pork to indirect heat, and continue grilling, covered with grill lid, another 8-10 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 150°. Remove pork and allow to sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.
While the pork is resting, prepare the salsa. Coarsely chop half the blueberries. Place all the blueberries in a small bowl and stir together with the remaining ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste. (The salsa can be made and chilled up to 24 hours in advance.)
Arrange the pork chops on a serving platter and spoon the salsa over the top. Serve immediately.