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:
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.