Friday, May 21, 2010

Brining Pork Chops by Tom

Brining Pork Chops by Tom

With summer around the corner, grilling is on my mind.  The two just go together.  And Tom makes some great things on the grill -- like these delicious pork chops he brined last summer.  So, I asked him to write about this technique for the blog.  Thanks, T for contributing again!  ---ILY, B

Last summer I read a book by Michael Pollan titled "The Omnivore's Dilemma".  Colleen had given it to Barbara to read, and I thought it looked like it would be interesting to read as well.  It was.  In it he explores the natural history of three meal sources:  industrial corn, pastoral grasses, and the forest for both hunting and gathering.  The book is fascinating and very interesting, on its own, so I recommend it as a good read.  But it is also interspersed with some interesting approaches to food preparation.  One of those, brining, caught my eye.  So I thought I would give it a try.
Brining causes meat to absorb moisture and helps to break down the proteins that can toughen the meat on the grill.  The approach is very simple, and the results are excellent.

The Ingredients (based on 6 thick cut pork chops or 6 servings)

~1/2 cup kosher salt
2 bay leaves
~1 tablespoon of chopped garlic, about 2 cloves
~1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
~1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
~1/4 cup soy sauce
thick sliced pork chops (1 chop per person)
water to cover

Adjust the quantities based on the number of pork chops you will be serving. 

In a large bowl add all of the dry ingredients.  Mix it up a bit.

Next add the soy sauce and stir the mixture.
Now add the pork chops to the mixture, and pour water over the chops to cover.  Stir the mixture to insure that the chops are completely in contact with the brining solution.  Be sure to use good quality pork chops --- we got these at the butcher in Penn Yan, NY.  Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator for about 6 hours.  About halfway through, stir up the pork chops just to make sure all parts of the pork chops are in contact with the brining solution.

Time to grill!  Remove the pork chops from the brining solution and discard the brining solution.  The chops will look a little anemic when you remove them from the brining solution, but that means the brining process is working.  Make sure your grill is hot.  Grill until cooked to your preference, which will probably be around 20 minutes depending on the thickness of the chop.  Always a good idea to cook pork to medium at a minimum.

I also grilled the corn on the cob.  I remove the husk and silk.  I butter the corn and put salt and pepper on it before cooking.  Then I wrap it tightly in aluminum foil.  I put it on the grill for 20 minutes rotating the corn about a half turn every 5 minutes or so.

These were big chops!  So one was more than plenty for each person.  Besides the corn, this meal also included sauteed asparagus.  The chops, as advertised, were very juicy and tender, the result of the brining.  This is a technique that I had not used much before, but will definitely use again.  Thank you for the tip, Michael Pollan!

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