Growing up, pork chops were in the regular rotation of my mother’s go-to meals. They were definitely one of my favorites but I have no idea how she made them or why they were so good (she doesn’t remember doing anything particularly special…it’s a mystery!) But as I began eating meat again 3 years ago after a 15 year hiatus, today’s pork chops were not meeting the rosy memories of my childhood. Until I discovered brine and marinades.
Pork may be the other white meat, but like the original white meat it generally needs some doctoring to boost its flavor. Marinades can provide lots of flavor like my Miracle Marinade but I was looking for a more porkier tasting chop. That’s where brine comes to the rescue. A simple brine of salt water and a few herbs ensures that your chop stays moist when you cook it and highlights the pork flavor. Delicious!
I chose rosemary and juniper since they both have that resin-y flavor and it really brought out the pork flavor. While you may be tempted to add more garlic thinking that 2 is just not enough, restrain yourself; this is a very mellow brine that produces a savory pork chop with just a hint of herbal infusion. Trust me, most of your diners won’t even realize that there was flavorings in the brine, they will simply comment on how juicy the chop is and the great pork flavor!
Rosemary and Juniper Brined Pork Chops
2 pork chops
3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons juniper berries
1 3 inch sprig rosemary, de-leafed
2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
2 fresh bay leaves, crushed to reveal their aroma
1 tablespoon olive oil
Mince rosemary and combine with juniper berries in mortar and pestle and crush until mashed. In plastic ziplock bag large enough to hold both pork chops flat, add water, salt, rosemary juniper mixture, garlic and bay leaves and seal. Place in dish so that chops are submerged in brine and marinate 24 hours. Drain and remove all seasonings. Pat chops drop and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat skillet large enough to hold both chops and add olive oil. Cook chops until just barely done, 5-8 minutes per side, depending on thickness. Remove from heat and allow to rest 5 minutes. Serve immediately.
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