I thought about running this recipe over Valentine’s Day weekend so I could call it “Days of Brine and Roses,” but honestly, there’s nothing really romantic about a pork chop, unless you are a pig of the opposite sex. (Aren’t they all...)
But that is not to say the extra step of brining your meat does not denote love. Damn right it does. Look buster, you could be eating a Shake ‘n’ Bake chop right now if I didn’t have feelings for you. If I wasn’t planning on a future with you! Do you think I brine for just anyone? Hmmm.. Maybe I should have saved this column for Valentine’s Day.
Brining turkey has been around since Martha Stewart arrived on the scene about 10 years after the plastic roasting bag (I love them). Now everybody has a brine recipe for the bird. I’ve been there, done that, with good results. Why I never thought to expand my brining to other cuts of meat I have no idea.
Finally, after thoroughly enjoying a standard pork chop transformed into a succulent Porc de Great at a fancy restaurant, I decided to give it a go chez moi. Bottom line: It is time to stop your whining about “no simple recipes” and start your brining.
Brined Pork Chops
4 pork chops, 10-11 oz each, and 1 1 / 4 inches thick.
3 bay leaves, crumbled
4 dried chilies, crumbled
1 handful of Juniper berries (optional)
5 cups room temperature water
6 tbls. sugar
5 tbls. salt
Place the bay leaves, chilies and Juniper berries in small pot with about one cup of the water. Bring to a simmer, stirring and crushing the spices until aromatic and flavors are released. Remove from heat and allow flavors to mingle, about 10 minutes.
Combine this mixture with the remaining water, sugar and salt in large Tupperware. Rinse the meat and pat dry. Place the pork chops in the brine. You may need to use a plate to weight them down, ensuring they are submerged in the liquid.
Cover and refrigerate for two days, though you can go as long as four, no problem. A couple of hours before cooking, remove the chops from the brine. Rub and massage the meat (again, maybe this should be a Valentine’s Day column) as you rinse them under cool water.
Press dry between towels. Brush the chops with olive oil and grill over medium coals or cook in a heavy skillet (oiled) over medium heat. Turn at least three times as you cook. The should take about 18 minutes to cook. Serve with applesauce, roasted acorn squash or baked sweet potatoes.
Simone Grandmain is an internationally published travel and food writer who currently calls Truckee-Tahoe home. She welcomes your recipes, kitchen “must-haves” and food news at firstname.lastname@example.org.