Today I bring you the beautiful simplicity of brined pork chops. I leap for joy when I come across something that lets me have my happy local pig on a plate in less than 20 minutes. You’re looking at about 5 minutes of prep and about 10 of cooking. If you’re me, add 45 minutes to account for peeling barnacle baby from your person as you juggle raw meat and hot skillets.
Pork chops come from the loin of a pig. This is the area along the back, extending from shoulder to hind leg. They can be cut from the shoulder, center, or sirloin end of the loin. I used the center-cut chop, however either cut included in your share can be used (with cook time adjusted for thickness of the cut).
Brining is using a solution of sugar and salt to infuse meat with flavor and moisture. Cool science words like “osmosis” are involved.
Use the package of center-cut pork chops, thawed ahead of time.
For the brine solution you’ll need:
2 cups chicken stock
¼ cup salt
¼ cup brown sugar
½ tsp. black peppercorns
½ tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 bay leaves
2 cups ice
Mix all ingredients except ice in a saucepan over low heat. Once sugar and salt are dissolved, remove from heat and add ice until the solution becomes cold. Put your thawed chops into a gallon freezer bag or large bowl and add the brine. The meat should be fully submerged in the solution.
Close the bag/cover the bowl, stick it in the fridge, and go do something else. How long you allow your chops to soak in the brine is up to you. Even an hour will make a noticeable difference in flavor and tenderness. About 15 minutes before you’re ready to apply heat, take your pork chops out of the brine and pat dry with a paper towel, allowing them to reach room temperature. Now it’s time to bust out the old iron skillet. Throw just enough fat in there to make the bottom shiny. I’m a fan of butter or bacon grease. Happen to have a bucket of lard lying around from your meat share? Go for it. Turn burner to medium, and give your pan time to fully heat up before using. Add your chops and cook on each side for about five minutes, give or take one. The internal temp needs to reach 145 before removing from heat. Allow the pieces to rest a few minutes before serving.
This recipe was adapted from How to Brine Pork Chops by Nils Hoyum.
I’d love to hear how brining changed your life forever. I will compulsively check the comment section for your stories of pork chop triumph.