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Cheap Entertaining: Pork Chops with Mustard & Honey

Pork is cheap, but chops are often so lean (obsessively so in supermarkets) they need remedial treatment to stop them being dry. The tricks here are a coating of honey and mustard and brining the chops before you start – although if you haven't time to brine, the chops will still taste good. You can speed up the brining process by dissolving the salt and sugar in some boiling water and then topping up with ice and cold water. The brine must be cold when you put the chops in. As to capers or olives, it’s entirely your call. Serves 6

For the brine 1 litre of water 70g salt 60g sugar freshly ground black pepper 2 bay leaves 6 juniper or allspice berries, squashed, or some sprigs of rosemary or thyme 10–12 ice cubes

For the chops 6 pork chops 2 tbsp of olive or groundnut oil 6 tbsp (90ml) Dijon mustard 3 tbsp (45ml) good quality honey 6 tbsp capers, well rinsed; or 6tbsp olives, chopped, and the zest of a lemon (no lemon needed with the capers) Freshly ground pepper Sea salt, if not brining the chops

For the brine, put the salt and sugar in a measuring jug and add 200ml boiling water. Stir to dissolve. Add all the flavourings and the ice cubes. When melted, top up the jug with cold water until you have 1 litre. When completely cold, put the brine in a large bowl with the chops and leave in a cool place (the fridge if necessary) for 3–4 hours, turning the chops once. Rinse thoroughly and dry with kitchen paper.

Heat the oven to 180C/fan oven 160C/Gas Mark 4.

Mix the mustard and honey in a bowl. Add the capers, or the olives and lemon zest. Use a sharp knife to cut through the rind and/or fat of the chops at 1.5cm intervals. Season the meat with pepper (and, if you haven't brined the chops, with salt).

Fry them in batches in hot oil for a couple of minutes on each side. Transfer to a roasting tin, then spread the mustard-honey mix over the flesh (but not the fat or bone). Pour over any fat and juices from the frying pan.

Cook in the oven. Thinnish chops will take about 12 minutes; large chops up to 20. Leave them to rest in the tin for 5 minutes. Serve with whatever takes your fancy – some kind of grains, mash or polenta and some leeks or green veg?

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