Pork chops get a bad wrap. They’re not nearly as tender as the pork tenderloin but they end up just as dry and flavorless. They’re are few things worse than eating a dry, tough, flavorless piece of meat.
But, really, pork chops should be drool worthy. It’s like a steak but it’s pork so it should be even better. I always want to love pork chops but it seldom works out (witness the distinct lack of pork chop recipes on here).
I’ve tried brining before but it didn’t help all that much. It was too easy to overpower the flavor of the pork (ever had a pork chop that tasted entirely of herbs? I have). And all the brine recipes wanted to make apple-flavored pork chops. I don’t have a problem with apple flavorings in pork per se but it really wasn’t what I was looking for.
I now have an Angela-approved pork chop recipe to put on the do-over list (i.e. things that get made again). The sage and garlic flavors are mild and accentuate the pork as opposed to overpower it. The pork wasn’t dry or overly salty. And while I wouldn’t describe the pork as tender, it definitely wasn’t tough. The pork chops achieved the level of balance that’s often missing in food.
The sauce is of my own invention and is completely optional. I liked it, Angela didn’t use any. It’s just a basic pan sauce with shallots and pork stock. I added a little dijon mustard to round out the flavor.
These went particularly well with creamed corn (of course, few things don’t go well with creamed corn).
Garlic-Sage-Brined Pork Chops
Adapted from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing
1 quart of water
1/4 cup kosher salt
6 tbsp packed dark brown sugar
2 packed tbsp sage leaves
1/2 tbsp juniper berries, crushed
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 tbsp ground black pepper
Two 3/4″ thick bone-in pork rib chops
2 tbsp pork fat (or vegetable oil)
1 tbsp diced shallots
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 cup pork stock (or water)
1 tbsp butter, softened
- Combine all the brine ingredients in a large pot and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Place the brine in the refrigerator until it has chilled.
- Add the pork chops to the brine and refrigerate for 2 hours. Remove the pork chops from the brine and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to a day.
- A half hour before cooking, remove the pork chops from the refrigerator.
- In a skillet over high heat, melt the pork fat until hot. Sear the pork chops on each side until well browned, about 5 minutes per side or until the pork reaches an internal temperature 140ºF.
- Remove the pork chops from the skillet and cover with aluminum foil.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the shallots. Cook for 1 minute or until the shallots are softened.
- Stir in the dijon mustard then deglaze the pan with the pork stock. Bring to a boil and reduce until slightly thickened.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the softened butter.
- Serve the pork chop covered with the sauce.