Pork chops is what’s for dinner when my parents come to visit. While The Hubs is tolerant of my stereotypically Californian health food cooking (quinoa anyone? kale?) my midwestern dad, not so much. Although he would eat anything I put in front of him (there’s always popcorn later if you don’t like dinner) I always try to give him something he’ll actually like. When they came to town a couple of weeks ago, I browsed the meat section for something I could make that would please everyone. I’m not a vegetarian, but I don’t eat a whole lot of meat, so when I do, I tend to get a little sick from it. I needed something light, and pork chops fit the bill.
With any light meat, brining is key to keeping it juicy. If you have never brined meat before, let me tell you, you’re seriously missing out. Turkey, chicken, pork…..they’re all better with brine. Essentially brining means soaking it in salt water. Meat already contains saltwater, and by submerging it in more saltwater that’s chock full o’ flavor, it will absorb those flavors and additional moisture that it will retain while it cooks. Pretty simple huh?
You can add pretty much anything to a brine; onions, apples, citrus, herbs and spices….the list goes on and on. The brine I used for these pork chops is listed below
- 6 cups water
- 4½ tablespoons kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 6 teaspoons black peppercorns
- 8 thyme sprigs
- 4 bay leaves
- combine first 4 ingredients in a large heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag. Add ingredients for either the spice flavoring or the herb flavoring; seal bag, shaking until salt and sugar dissolve.
- For larger pieces of meat like a whole turkey, you can easily double, triple, or quadruple the brine
Apples and pork chops go together like peas and carrots, so I followed this Cooking Light recipe to complete the meal.
- Master Brine
- 4 (6-ounce) bone-in center-cut pork chops (about ½ inch thick)
- Cooking spray
- 1½ pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ⅜-inch wedges
- ⅔ cup apple cider
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
- Prepare Master Brine. Add pork to brine; seal bag. Let stand in refrigerator 24 hours.
- Remove pork from brine; rinse and pat dry. Let stand 30 minutes.
- Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add pork; cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until done. Transfer chops to a plate; cover and keep warm.
- Add apples to pan; sauté 5 minutes. Add cider, brown sugar, and ginger, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Reduce heat to low; cook 5 minutes until apple is tender, stirring frequently.
My dad ate it all up so I guess that speaks for itself! Do you have a favorite brining recipe? I’d love if you’d share in the comments section!