Whew. It has been a long month. We’ve got house projects galore happening, including tearing my kitchen apart to paint cabinets, and I’ve officially started culinary school. Lately it’s felt like I’ve come to the end of my cookery knowledge and really want to expand my understanding of how foods is made. I would prefer to rely on recipes less and be able to come up with meals based on creativity, basic principles and what’s in my pantry. So with the encouragement of my very kind husband, I am working on the culinary program at a nearby college. All that to say I am way behind writing on here and have a large backlog of recipes that need documenting. So, why brine? Brining the meat adds a lot of flavor and keeps it moist during cooking. Imagine a world where pork chops didn’t taste like grilled rubber, where they melted in your mouth due to their moistness, that’s why you brine. These pork chops are amazing and go really well with mashed potatoes. Even though I grilled these chops, you could easily prepare them stovetop, especially since fall is starting to set in.
1 cup kosher salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup Grade B maple syrup
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
4 center-cut loin pork chops, 1 1/2 inches thick
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil for grilling
Roasted Pear Chutney (optional)
1. Mix all of the brine ingredients together in a nonreactive pot and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and stir the brine to ensure that the salt, sugar, and maple syrup have dissolved. Let the brine cool, then put it in a large nonreactive container and add the pork chops. Cover and refrigerate for no more than 12 hours.
2. Remove the pork from the brine and pat dry (without rinsing).
3. Prepare a grill with hot and medium cooking areas. A grill is hot when you can’t hold your hand near the grill surface for longer than 2 seconds without pulling it away; it’s medium when you can’t hold your hand there for longer than 4 seconds.
4. Season the chops with pepper (not salt — remember, the brining solution is salty) and brush with the oil. Sear the chops directly over the hottest part of the open grill for about 1 1/2 minutes on each side. Then move the chops to the medium area of the grill, cover the grill, and cook to the desired doneness. Use an instant-read digital thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chops. A reading of 145° to 150°F will give you a pink, moist chop, 160°F is well-done. Serve immediately, accompanied by the chutney, if using.
In the Hands of a Chef
Recipe taken from Epicurious