An easy way to achieve moist, tender chops!
I love the taste of pork and serve it often. I usually cook it in some kind of sauce because I find it can sometimes get a little dried out if I am not paying attention to it every second. I recently decided to try brining the meat before cooking and I have to say, the results are very impressive and well worth the little extra time this method takes. I served the pork chops with roasted acorn squash and it was a perfect combination.
For the brined chops:
- 4 cups (1L) water
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) coarse kosher salt
- 1 large clove garlic sliced lengthwise
- 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) piece of peeled ginger root, sliced in 4
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) each mustard seeds and black peppercorns, lightly crushed
- Two 3 inch (7.5 cm) sprigs fresh rosemary or thyme
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) aromatic white wine (I used Chardonnay)
- 2 thick pork rib or loin chops
For the finished dish:
- 1 large apple, cored and cut in 1/4 inch (.6 cm) slices
- 1 small yellow onion, cut in 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) wedges
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) olive oil
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme, plus more, to garnish
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) apple cider vinegar
- Heat water, salt, garlic, ginger, mustard and peppercorns in a small pot, stirring often, until mixture is steaming and salt has dissolved. Remove from heat and add rosemary and wine. Let stand until completely cooled.
- Prick 2 pork chops all over with a fork about 1/8-inch deep. Flip the pork chops and repeat pricking the other side. Place in a non-reactive dish just big enough to hold the chops and the brine then pour brine over top. Cover and let sit 30 minutes at room temperature or up to 8 hours in the refrigerator.
- When ready to cook, remove the pork chops from the brine (discard brine) and pat completely dry with paper towels.
- Heat a large cast-iron skillet (or other heavy, oven-safe skillet) over medium-high heat until almost beginning to smoke. Add the pork chops and cook until they begin to brown, about 1 minute on each side.
- Reduce the heat to medium. Continue to cook, flipping the chops every two minutes, until they register 140F to 145F in the thickest part, about 5 – 8 minutes. Transfer the pork chops to a clean plate.
- Add the olive oil to the pan and let it warm over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the onion, garlic, and 4 sprigs fresh thyme, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to brown, about 4 minutes.
- Add the apples, chicken broth and cider vinegar to the pan, stirring gently. Place the cooked pork chops on top, gently pressing them into the onion and apple. Place a lid on the pan and cook until the apples are warm and tender but not falling apart, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Serve pork chops with pan juices, apples and onions spooned over top. Garnish with additional fresh sprigs of thyme if desired.
Serves 2; recipe can easily be multiplied.