tuscan brined pork chops with salsa verde

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This recipe for juicy brined pork chops is a variation on one I’ve been making for years. While I was in Tuscany during my DaVinci Storyteller experience earlier this fall, I soaked up the aura and sensory beauty of the place – it’s hard not to! Aromatic foliage grows wild everywhere, like bay laurel, lavender and rosemary, each of which happen to be classic and delicious seasonings for thick cut pork chops. 

My recipe is a relatively “quick” brine with a slightly denser solution of salt (about 10 percent) than I’d use for an overnight brine. Because more often than not I’m crunched for time, I end up using this recipe a lot. While the chops only sit in the brine for an hour or two (and up to 4) they still turn out flavorful.

Crushing and bruising the aromatic ingredients helps distribute their essence into the liquid without the need for boiling, steeping, then cooling the brine, all of which takes up precious minutes. I’ve tried adding ice cubes to quickly cool the brine, but when too busy even for that, I found the cold-water method works just as well.

As food scientist Harold McGee explains, the way brining works is that salt and water move into the fibers of meat, disrupting and partially dissolving the muscle filaments while expanding them. The meat becomes tenderized while being infused with whatever aromatic molecules are present in the liquid, no matter hot or cold.

Enough technical stuff – simply enjoy these chops, with garlic and olive-oil braised cannellini beans and either a full, earthy Brunello di Montalcino (my favorite) or a juicy Chianti Classico from DaVinci Wines.

tuscan brined pork chops with salsa verde

Serving Size: 4 servings

tuscan brined pork chops with salsa verde

Ingredients

  • 4 thick-cut pork rib chops (1 ½ inches) 9 - 10 ounces each
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 3 crushed garlic cloves
  • 4 crumbled bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, roughly chopped, plus 1 tablespoon chopped
  • 2 dried red chili peppers, crumbled
  • Zest of one lemon, peeled with a vegetable peeler
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Salsa Verde:
  • 1 cup Italian parsley leaves
  • 1 cup arugula
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 teaspoons salt-preserved capers, rinsed
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt

Instructions

  1. Put the pork chops in a gallon size freezer bag and place the bag in a large bowl.
  2. In another large bowl whisk the salt and sugar with 6 cups water until dissolved. Add the garlic, bay leaves, rosemary sprigs, chili and lemon zest. Pour the brine over the pork. Seal bag and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.
  3. Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill.
  4. Remove chops from brine and pat dry. Place chops on the grill and cook 4 minutes per side. They should be nicely browned and register between 135 - 140 degrees on a meat thermometer.
  5. Loosely cover the chops with foil and let rest 5 minutes. Season with black pepper to taste and sprinkle with chopped rosemary; serve with Salsa Verde.
  6. To make Salsa Verde, pulse parsley, arugula and cilantro in a food processor until chopped. Add garlic, capers, olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt and pulse until combined. Taste and season with additional salt if desired.
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Comments

  1. These chops look wonderful – but then you food always does. I just love your style. I look forward to trying this brine. Over the years I have tried a number of different brines for pork, and I have never been satisfied; I found that the meat developed what I can only describe as a mealy texture. So I bet – since this one is tried and tested by you – that I will have MUCH better luck. My husband loves pork chops, so he will be game for this one.

    I hope things are going well for you, and I wish you and yours a very merry Christmas and a happy new year!

    • Grazie mille, Adri. Yes, I know what you mean by that strange texture, and it really isn’t pleasant to me either. Kind of like canned ham. Let me know how your husband likes these if you try 🙂 Best holiday wishes to you!

  2. I’ve been posting sweets all December so it’s nice to jump over here and find something deliciously savory. I love bay leaf and I think it’s underused, at least here. I put it in my lentil soup and also in my italian pickles. And, of course, it’s perfect with pork chops. Thank you for sharing your recipe. Buon Natale!

    • Thanks Domenica. I was blown away that there were millions of bay leaves growing in Italy, and kept thinking of those little jars we buy here at large cost. And Tuscans are pork lovers for sure. Buon Natale to you!

      • There was a park near my aunts’ house in Rome that was bordered by laurel hedges. As you say, bay leaves by the millions! I tried to grow a plant here in VA once and was not successful. I guess I’ll have to wait till I get a place over there 🙂

  3. This looks divine! I love a good pork chop, especially on that’s been brined. Salsa Verde is such a lovely compliment as well. And of course… who can resist a DaVinci Chianti?! 😉

  4. Trying this brine on a pork roast today for Christmas and will serve with the Verde. Excited 🙂

Trackbacks

  1. […] the natural herbs growing on the Casale di Valle property, inspiring her to develop this recipe for Tuscan Brined Pork Chops along with Salsa Verde, which pairs beautifully along with DaVinci Chianti.   Jennifer Wood’s […]

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