Friday Night Home Date - Brined Pork Chops with Italian Spices


Spicing-up the brine

Harold McGee describes, in great detail, the miracle of brining in On Food and Cooking. All I know is that brined pork chops are the best thing going, and enjoying them on a Friday night is even better.

My recipe is a variation of one from Cook’s Illustrated, and I love it because it’s neat and relatively quick. What makes this a “quick” brine is the ratio of sugar, salt and water. It’s more concentrated than other brining formulas, so the chops get the full benefit of the soak in just one hour, and you don’t need a giant bucket or stockpot.

When salt invades the muscle tissues of a piece of meat, the cells expand and become receptive to all sorts of aroma molecules that seep out of herbs and spices. So I took cook’s license and dolled up my brine with my favorite Italian flavors.

Trust me, once you taste a brined pork chop, you’ll never go back!

Here are some other tasty-looking chops from some fellow food bloggers:

Matt Bites Vanilla Brine

Cooking up a Storm's Maple-Brined Pork Chops

Brined Pork Chops with Italian Spices
makes four servings

4 thick cut (1 1/2-inches) pork chops, preferably rib chops
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt or 1/4 cup table salt
6 crushed garlic cloves
4 bay leaves, crumbled
1 tablespoon cracked black peppercorns
2 teaspoons crushed fennel seeds
1 or 2 dried chile de arbol, crumbled or 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Zest from 1 lemon, peeled with a vegetable peeler

1. Place pork chops in a gallon size freezer zip-top bag, and place the bag in a large bowl.

2. Whisk the sugar and salt in a large glass bowl with 6 cups water until dissolved. Add the garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, fennel, chile and zest. Pour the brine over pork chops. Seal bag and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.

3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place a shallow roasting pan on center oven rack to heat. Remove chops from brine; discard brine. Pat the chops dry with paper towels. Place a large heavy skillet over medium high heat; add the oil and heat until shimmering, but not smoking. Add chops to skillet and cook about 3 minutes, or until nicely browned. Turn the chops and cook the other side an additional 3 minutes.

4. Transfer the chops to the heated roasting pan in oven. Roast 5 minutes; turn the chops and roast 5 more minutes or until internal temperature reaches 140 degrees. Loosely cover the chops with foil and rest for 5 minutes. The chops will continue to cook while resting, and should reach about 145 degrees.

Copyright (c) 2007 FamilyStyle Food


Dee said...

I LOVE brining pork, and like "cooking up a storm" am partial to a maple brine - this is my fave recipe -
1 cup kosher salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup Grade B maple syrup (TJs has this cheap)
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons hot red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons juniper berries
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1/4 cup fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
12 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
8 cups water

Brine it for a day, pat it dry, drizzle a little oil, pepper and GRILL!

Lisa said...

Wow that looks and sounds great.

janelle said...

Yum, Yum, Yum. I am so printing out BOTH recipes, and cannot wait---at least not until next Friday---to make them!!!!

Karen said...

Dee, Yum,that is a definite must-try!
Thanks for sharing the recipe.

Lisa and Janelle - I'm glad you'll be happy briners soon.

Kristen said...

Another fabulous date night at home. Sounds delicious!

Karen said...

Thanks, Kristen. I hope you give it a try...

Thunderlady said...

Hi, I found your blog once, a while ago, and i added it tom ay favorites. It´s different from other blogs about cooking.

This recipe looks delicious! Is it your foto?

Karen said...

Thunderlady, thanks for visiting.

Yes, the photo is mine, such as it is...

Let me know if you try the pork chops.

WILLOBIE said...

Brining puzzles me. Nearly all commercial pork (Hormel, Tyson) sold at Walmart or chain groceries is "enhanced" by 12% brine and flavoring solutions. I go to a specialty meat store to get "unpumped" pork and I suppose that's what Whole Foods sells. So, why would you want to brine meat that is already brined? Or is this recipe only for the kind of natural pork one has to seach for?

Does anybody know the difference between koshering and brining? My old physics class says that liquid flows across a membrane to equalize the concentration of solute on both sides. That suggest to me that koshering with dry salt, "draws out" water and that brining with a concentrated liquid "draws in" the sugar/salt solute. Does anybody know? McGee?