Fresh figs and Marsala are two flavors that go together so deliciously! When they are served on top of grilled pork chops, you have a marriage made in heaven. Pork Chops with Marsala Fig Sauce? Yes, please!
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Talk to me about figs.
Well, until I had to write about figs, I only knew that they were luscious, sweet, and very well used in jam! After looking up more information on them, I found that they are part of the mulberry family, that they are gummy with latex before they are optimally ripe, that there are many more varieties than the three or four that we most familiar with, and that the trees never bloom because the flowers are on the inside producing all those tiny seeds that give the fig just a bit of crunch.
They are definitely a beautiful fruit! The ones we know best are Black Mission, Brown Turkish (also known as Spanish Mission), Adriatic, and Calimyrna. I recommend Black Mission or Brown Turkish for this recipe.
Figs are soft and can go bad pretty quickly which is why I think many people just make jam out of them rather than serving them fresh. When I buy them, I usually look carefully through the carton for any that are spoiled already and trade them out with figs from other cartons!
How to prep the pork chops
You can certainly grill the pork chops without brining them, but they definitely benefit from the brine in terms of tenderness and flavor. This brine is salt, pepper, thyme, and garlic. I like to use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt for brining.
Just a note -- if you don't have a grill or if your grill is under two feet of snow, you can pan sear the pork chops with the same delicious result!
I love using one of my large vintage pottery bowls, but feel free to use whatever dish you have that will hold the pork chops under the surface of the brine.
Now let's talk about Marsala. What is it?
Marsala is a fortified wine that can be dry or sweet and is produced in the region surrounding the town of Marsala in Sicily, Italy. Marsala has a delicious, deep flavor and cooking wine simply is not a substitute. Cooking wines have added ingredients and are just not acceptable for your beautiful dishes!
Ode to the sauce
The sauce is amazing, y'all. Adding the figs and some thyme to that deep tasting Marsala takes it all up a notch. It sounds fancy, but it truly comes together very quickly. So, if you've brined your meat ahead of time, you can enjoy this even on a weeknight!
If you time it just right ...
Get the pork chops on the grill, then start the sauce by sauteeing the shallots first. Deglaze with the Marsala, add the figs and thyme, then a splash of balsamic vinegar to finish it.
And there you have it … Pork Chops with Marsala Fig Sauce. So delicious that it needs little accompaniment! But I think roasted carrots and sauteed green beans round out the menu quite well as would some rice or mashed potatoes. Bon appetit!
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Pork Chops with Marsala Fig Sauce
For the Brine
- 1½ quarts cold water
- 6 Tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 6 thyme sprigs
- 2 cloves garlic smashed and peeled
- 4 bone-in pork loin chops about ¾-inch thick
For the Marsala Fig Sauce
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- ½ cup shallots finely chopped
- 1 cup dry Marsala
- 12 Black Mission or Spanish Mission figs stems snipped off with kitchen scissors and figs cut in half
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme finely chopped
- 2 Tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
- thyme sprigs for garnish
For the Brine
- In a large bowl, or dish deep enough for the pork chops to be covered by the brine, combine all the ingredients for the brine.
- Stir until the salt is dissolved, then place the pork chops in the dish.
- Refrigerate at least one hour and up to 12. About 30 minutes before cooking, remove the pork chops from the brine, pat dry, and set aside to come to room temperature. This allows for a more even cook.
For the Pork
- Heat the grill to a medium-high heat, or prepare a moderate charcoal fire.
- Grill the pork chops over direct heat to brown on both sides, turning quarter turns if you want traditional grill marks.
- When both sides are nicely browned, turn the heat down (on a gas grill), or move the chops away from direct heat. Close the grill, and allow the pork chops to cook until the internal temperature is 145°F.
- Remove to a platter and cover with foil while making the sauce.
For the Marsala Fig Sauce
- Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the butter, then the shallots once the butter is melted. Let the shallots cook slowly until they are soft, 3-5 minutes.
- Add the Marsala and bring to a simmer.
- Add the thyme and figs. Cook gently, turning the figs to warm through and coat with the sauce. Once the sauce is syrupy and reduced, add the vinegar and stir to mix well. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and additional vinegar, if desired.
- Arrange the pork on a platter, spoon the sauce over, and put the figs on the side. Garnish with thyme sprigs and serve.