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I remember growing up and dreading the nights when dinner was pork chops. The recipe was a thin pork chop seasoned with a little salt and pepper, fried in some oil then topped with a slice of onion and tomato and finally cooked with lid over the pan until it was completely decimated. It resembled the look and texture of grey shoe leather and the taste, I’m fairly confident, was equal to eating one. Thank goodness we don’t cook pork like that anymore, but I do get quite a few inquiries as to how to get a juicy chop that’s full of flavor and yet still cooked through. Pork should be slightly pink, but for many they still can’t get past those old traditions.
The number one problem I find, and this is at many restaurants too, is they over cook the meat. But many restaurants and fine home cooks use brining as a way of infusing flavor and insuring they get a moist chop every time. The way it works is the brine contains a higher concentration of water and salt than the meat, so it permeates the meat adding water and salt along with other flavors into the meat cells. Depending on the type and size of meat, brining can be done for a few hours and up to several days. For these chops, four is hours was just enough and offered exceptional flavor. Enjoy!
I started by toasting 2 tablespoons black peppercorns, 1 tablespoon coriander seeds and 1 tablespoon fennel seeds over medium heat for about 4 minutes until whiffs of smoke rose from the pan then transferred them to a large non reactive pot. Toasting the spices helps release their natural oils and increases the flavor of the brine.
I added 1/3 cup kosher salt, 2/3 cup brown sugar, 1 cup apple juice and 8 cups hot water to the pot and stirred until the salt and sugar had dissolved. I then added 6 cups of ice cubes and stirred until it was frigid. I added my thick pork loin chops to the brine then placed the pot in the refridgerator for 4 hours. This is enough brine to do several chops or even a few roasts.
When the chops were done brining, I rinsed them under cold water and dried them thoroughly with paper towels. I rubbed them on both sides with a little olive oil then seasoned them with a little kosher salt and few good twists of black pepper.
While the grill was coming to medium high temperature, I got going on the herb sauce. I added 3/4 cup of dry white wine to a fry pan over medium high heat and reduced it for about 3 minutes. I added 1 smashed garlic clove and 1 1/2 cups chicken stock and let it reduce to about 1/2 cup around 15 minutes. I removed the garlic then added 1 tablespoon each of chopped chives, parsley and thyme and cooked for 1 minute then finished it by whisking in a mixture of 2 tablespoons white wine, 2 tablespoons chicken stock combined with 1/2 teaspoon constarch and cooked for another minute until thickened then removed from the heat. If you want the herbs to be bright green, you can blanch the chives and parsley before chopping for 15 seconds then plunge into an ice bath to set the color. I find this to be tedious for a weeknight meal so I didn’t. If I was doing this for catering or a dinner party then I would. Unfortunately, I completely forgot to get pictures of the meat grilling. Sorry! I grilled the chops for 4 -5 minutes per side rotaing them 1/4 turn after 2 minutes to get good hash marks then removed and let them rest for 10 minutes loosely covered.
And this is what I ended up with. I served it on a bed of wilted arugula and spooned some sauce over the meat and around the plate. Enjoy!
- 4 bone-in pork loin chops about 1½ inches thick
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- ⅓ cup kosher salt
- ⅔ cup brown sugar
- 1 cup apple juice
- 8 cups hot water
- 6 cups ice cubes
- ¾ cup dry white wine
- 1½ cups chicken stock
- 1 garlic clove smashed
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives
- 1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons chicken stock
- ½ teaspoon cornstarch
- Toast the peppercorns, coriander seeds and fennel seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 4 minutes until whiffs of smoke rise then transfer to a large non reactive pot.
- To the pot, add the rest of the brine ingredients EXCEPT the ice cubes. Stir until the salt and sugar have dissolved then add the ice cubes. Add the pork chops and place the pot in the refridgerator for 4 hours.
- After 4 hours remove the chops and rinse with cold water then dry thoroughly with paper towels. Coat the pork with the olive oil and season lightly with a little kosher salt and a few twists from your pepper mill.
- While the pork is coming to room temperature get started on the sauce. Add ¾ cup white wine to a fry pan over medium high heat and reduce for about 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and garlic clove and cook for about 15 minutes until reduced to about ½ cup. Remove the garlic and add the herbs cooking for 1 minute. In a small bowl combine the 2 tablespoons wine, 2 tablespoons stock and ½ teaspoon cornstarch then whisk this slurry into the sauce a cook for another minute until thickened then remove from the heat.
- Heat your grill to medium high and cook the pork chops for 4-5 minutes/side rotating ¼ turn after 2 minutes to get good grill marks. Remove and tent with foil and let rest 10 minutes before serving. Quickly heat the sauce and spoon a little over the chops and around the plate.