For the brine: Combine all the ingredients for the brine in a large non-reactive pot. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat. Allow to steep for 30 minutes, then cool in an ice bath. Place the pork loin in a container large enough to submerge it and pour the cooled brine over the pork. Make sure the entire loin is submerged, use a heavy plate, if necessary. Cover the container and place in the refrigerator at least 24 hours and up to 48 hours to cure.
Remove the pork from the brine, discard liquid. Dry the pork loin with a cloth and cut the loin into 8 (8-ounce) fillets. (You may alternately roast the entire loin whole, then slice medallions for presentation.)
For the braised lettuce: Cut the lettuce through the core into 16 wedges, reserve. Blanch the corn in salted water until tender, then cool and drain, reserve. Cook the apples over medium heat with a tablespoon of butter in a skillet until beginning to brown. Cool and reserve.
In a large heavy bottomed skillet, large enough to hold all the pork loins (or 2 smaller pans), heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Season the pork with salt. Saute the pork fillets about 7 minutes each side for medium.
For the gnocchi: Meanwhile prepare the sauce. Have a pot of salted boiling water ready for the gnocchi. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the lettuce quarters in batches with a pinch of salt and brown on both sides. Remove from the pan. Repeat until all the lettuce is browned. Return all the lettuce quarters to the pan, and over medium high heat, deglaze the pan with the white wine and apple cider. Reduce to a glaze. Add the pork stock and corn kernels and bring to a simmer. Mount the sauce with the remaining butter, add the chopped thyme, adjust seasoning, and reserve warm.
Cook the gnocchi until they float, then transfer them to the sauce to coat. Divide the lettuce, corn, gnocchi, and sauce among 8 large bowls. Top each with a pork fillet.
Recipe courtesy of Brian Gerritsen, Applewood Inn, Restaurant and Spa, Guerneville, CA 95446
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