Combine first four ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Cook just until salt and sugar dissolve, then remove from the heat and add the ice. Place the pork chops into a 2-gallon zip top bag and add the mixture and seal. Place in a plastic container and refrigerate overnight. This will brine the meat.
Remove the chops from the brine, rinse and pat dry. Season both sides with kosher salt and set aside.
Place the apples in the slow cooker.
Heat 1.5 tsp of olive oil in a 12 inch saute pan over medium high heat. Saute the pork chops on both sides until golden brown, about 5 mins per side. Place chops in the slow cooker on top of the apples.
Add the remaining half tbsp of olive oil to the pan followed by the onions and saute until brown, about 3 mins. Add the chicken broth to the pan to deglaze. Add the pepper and thyme and stir. Transfer this to the slow cooker, set to high, and cook 1.5 hours. Decrease the heat to low and cook 4.5 hours.