Thursday, May 23, 2013

Brined Pork Chops

Do you smell it? Each evening, the aroma of grills cooking delicious things wafts through the windows of our van as I ride along for the first few stops on the Picky Eater’s courier route. To me, those tantalizing smells are the true signal that summer is fast approaching.

Unfortunately, we live in a downtown apartment with no outdoor space. Any grilling I do is inside on the
George Foreman grill, but I keep stopping in stores to stare at the cast iron grill pans. I see one coming to my kitchen in the near future. (This picture is part of the scenery we see on the route. Isn't Kansas beautiful!)

I've read for some time about how brining is a good way to prepare meat for the grill, especially pork. The salt in the brine not only helps to draw flavors into the meat, but it also keeps the moisture inside as the meat cooks.

I found this recipe for brined pork chops in Taste of the Midwest by Dan Kaercher. The seasonings were perfect for pork. Since I was using bone-in chops, I decided to fry them in a cast iron skillet instead of cooking on the Foreman grill.

The chops were delicious. Even the Picky Eater loved them, asking, “Can we have these again?”

You bet we will!

One tip about this recipe: Be sure to use kosher salt. Regular table salt will make the chops too salty to eat.  Also, don’t brine the chops for more than 4 hours, for the same reason.

Brined Pork Chops
Adapted from Taste of the Midwest by Dan Kaercher

8 cups water
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds, coarsely crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons whole cloves, coarsely crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons whole allspice, coarsely crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
3 bay leaves
4 bone-in pork chops, about 1-inch thick
Flour, for dusting
2 to 3 teaspoons oil, for frying

To make the brine: Combine the water, kosher salt, brown sugar and spices in a large saucepan. (I crushed the spices with my meat mallet, but you can also use the bottom of a saucepan or small skillet. Just push until you hear the spices crack.) Stir over medium-high heat until the mixture comes almost to a boil and the salt and sugar are dissolved. Cool the mixture to room temperature, and then cover and place in the refrigerator to chill, at least 2 hours.

To make the chops: Put the pork chops into the brine solution. Cover and place back into the refrigerator to chill for 2 to 4 hours. (Do not go over 4 hours.) Make sure the brine completely covers the meat. (You can do this in a zippered plastic bag or a bowl.)

Remove the chops from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Allow the chop to sit out for 30 minutes to come to room temperature.

Place the oil in a skillet (I used cast iron) and preheat over medium heat. Dip the chops into flour to coat, making sure to shake off any excess. Place in the skillet and cook for 7 to 10 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

To grill, preheat the grill. Reduce the grill to medium heat and cook the chops over indirect heat. (The burners under the chops are off, but the ones to the side are on.) Cover the grill and cook for 35 to 40 minutes, turning the chops halfway through the cooking time.  

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