November 2012 Daring Cooks Challenge Brined and Roasted Pork Chops
Blog Checking lines: Audax of Audax Artifax was our November 2012 Daring Cooks’ host. Audax has brought us into the world of brining and roasting, where we brined meat and vegetables and roasted them afterwards for a delicious meal!
Brining wasn't a new technique, I have brined chicken before and been pleased with the results. Planning ahead to brine or marinate takes organization, preplanning, commitment to a preparation, so it doesn't happen often in my kitchen or galley. This challenge was the perfect opportunity to see what a brine bath would do for a thick, lean pork chop. RL swears I'm pork challenged lately, overcooking the chops or managing to serve them plenty pink but too tough to chew. Would brining make a difference and salvage my reputation?
Not on the first try, OH MY those chops were salty. The six-hour soak in brine was followed by a rinse, pat dry and air dry sequence. Next came a stove-top sear in a cast-iron skillet for color and a finish in a hot oven.
Taste test: attractive appearance, interior nicely pink, but too salty to enjoy for more than a bite or two. We gave up and ate ice cream sundaes for dinner that night.
The second try was much more successful. I reduced the salt in the brine by half and soaked the chops for 90 minutes. This time I used a cast-iron grill pan to sear the chops and for the oven roast as well. The interior temperature registered 145 F when the meat came out to rest.
Taste test: attractive appearance, flavorful and not too salty, but the finished chops were a bit too done when served. I'll pull them out of the oven at 140 F next time.
I fretted over the possibility of a second failure and served several side dishes "just in case", but needn't have worried. These brined and roasted pork chops were well-received - along with accompanying wild rice, stuffed mushrooms, and roasted carrots, red potatoes and fennel wedges. No bowl of ice cream was needed that night.
Brined Pork Chops
adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook, (my notes in red),
For the brine:
8 cups water
1/8 cup kosher salt
2 teaspoons Ponzu sauce
2 teaspoons ground ginger
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons pickling spices
6 garlic cloves, smashed or pressed
6 pork rib chops, 1.5 inches thick
4-6 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup dry white wine (I used Riesling)
½ cup chicken broth (low-sodium)
Special equipment: instant-read thermometer
Brine the pork chops:
- Combine brine ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Cool brine completely.
- Transfer to a large bowl or heavy 2-gallon Ziploc bag. Add pork chops and refrigerate,
at least 1 dayan hour or two.
Roast the chops:
- Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425 F.
- Remove chops from brine, (rinse) and pat completely dry, discarding brine. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet (cast iron pan) over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Brown chops in batches, without crowding, turning once, for 6-8 minutes per batch. Transfer to a roasting pan, arranging chops in a single layer. Add more oil, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, as needed between batches. (I skipped the roasting pan and used the same grill pan on the stove and in the oven for 2 chops)
- Roast chops until thermometer inserted 2 inches horizontally into center of meat registers 145 F, 10 to 15 minutes. (I now recommend 140 F)
- Transfer chops to a platter and let stand, loosely covered with foil, for 10 minutes. Their internal temperature will rise 10-15 degrees as they stand.
- Set roasting pan across two burners. Add wine and stock, along with any meat juices from platter, and deglaze by boiling over moderately high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, for 1 minute. Continue to boil until reduced to about ½ cup, about 3 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper and serve with chops. (I considered this step optional and not suited to a grill pan, so didn't prepare the pan sauce.)