Preheat BBQ grill or grill pan over medium heat.
Remove the chops from the brine (if using), rinse with cold water and pat dry with a clean cloth. Brush a thin layer of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and fresh ground pepper on both sides of the chops. Set the pork aside for 15 minutes to allow the meat to warm a bit. Place the pork cut-side down on the grill and cook 8 to 10 minutes, checking to make sure the pork is browning not burning. If the color is to dark you may need to remove the pork from the heat and turn down the heat; when it is lowered return the chops to the grill. Turn the chops over cook on the other side for another 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the grill and allow the meat to relax on a cooling rack/ in a warm spot (next to the grill) for 5 minutes before serving.
To serve, top pork chops with roasted apricots and serve alongside grilled leeks and potato gratin (see recipes)
I like to pepper the plate with some beautiful wild arugula leaves which really help to pull the plate visually together and give a nice peppery, sharp taste and delicate texture to the dish.
Clean leeks: cut off and discard the top dark green part off each leek, leaving the white and light green parts, approximately 3 to 4 inches long. Remove the outer layer (this tends to be quite tough) and cuts the leeks in half length-wise from core to top. Carefully cut the roots off at the core, consciously keeping as much of the core intact so that the leek will stay together. Rinse with cold water making sure to remove any dirt/mud from between the layers.
Place a pot of water on the stove, large enough to fit leeks, and bring to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and place 4 halves of leeks into the water. Boil for 3 to 5 minutes until the leeks are knife-tender. Remove from the water and allow to cool. Brush leeks with a thin coating of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and fresh ground pepper and place cut-side down on a well-oiled grill for 2 minutes. Turn leeks over and cook for another 2 minutes. You will be looking for nice brown grill marks with some crispy edges.
Slice the other leek in 1/4-inch strips at an angle (bias) cross sectioning the leek. The strips will look like elongated C’s. Place the vegetable oil in a pot that will hold the oil and leek combined. Add the leek slices to the oil and put the pot on the stove. Simmer on low heat stirring every few minutes. Cook until the leeks are a light golden brown (about 10 minutes). Remove the crispy leeks from the oil and place on a clean paper towel to drain. Season with a pinch of salt and set aside. These are to be placed on the pork to give a little crunch to the dish.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F). Place apricot halves in a baking dish large enough to allow the apricots to sit in one layer. The dish's sides should only be around and inch or so in height. Drizzle the vinegar, olive oil and a pinch of salt over the apricots and move the pan around allowing all the fruit to be equally coated. Place the sprigs of thyme over the apricots and place in the oven for 10 minutes or until the apricots are cooked through but not mushy.
Allow to cool a few minutes. When ready to serve, spoon approximately 7 apricot pieces over each pork chop and drizzle some of the cooking liquid on top.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (F). Butter the bottom and sides of a 10-inch cast iron skillet or similar oven-safe baking dish. Toast walnuts in a 350 oven for 8 minutes. Julienne onion from core to tail. Peel potatoes and slice them on a mandolin 1/4” thick (cross sections).
Place 2 layers of potato on the bottom of the baking dish, mixing the two types randomly. Season with a bit of salt and pepper, and a few leaves of thyme. Add half of the onion slices and 1/2 of the walnuts and Parmesan. Pour half of the cream over. Repeat, creating two equal layers. Cover dish with metal foil and place in the 400-degree oven for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are knife tender. Remove the foil and return to the oven for 10 minutes to brown the top, be careful not to burn the nuts.
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