When it comes to turkey’s, I’ve been really resistant to brining. There are plenty of ways to be nice, moist, breast meat without having to find a cooler and bucket the size of Idaho. Smear enough butter underneath the skin and you’ll be fine I say. When it comes to pork however, I am a convert. Last week J bought boneless pork chops from Trader Joe’s. We made an attempt at Vietnamese caramel pork that was ok but not spectacular. This time I decided to stay traditional and take a page out of Scotte’s cookbook – basic pan seared chops with a pan sauce. To compensate for the potential dryness of the chops, I decided to brine them first. After eating them I had the “oh I get it moment.” I don’t think brining adds a ton of flavor to pork. There was a nice savoriness that we normally wouldn’t have gotten from just salt and peppering them but nothing too special. But where the brining really came into play was the texture. It was just so moist and tender. I try and cook my pork fairly thoroughly because of my fear of trichonosis. Even with the extensive cooking, the chops turned out beautifully. Because I was feeling like a comfort meal, I made homemade stuffing as a side dish.
Brined Pork Chops with Stuffing
8 1-inch chops (can be boneless or not)
4 cups of water
¼ cup of brown sugar
¼ cup of salt
For the sauce:
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
½ cup of chicken stock
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon of thyme
For the stuffing:
4 cups of day-old bread cubes (preferably something like a ciabatta)
½ large onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 cup of chicken stock
The day before you cook them, brine the chops. This entails bringing the water, sugar, and salt to a simmer until the sugar and salt dissolve and then letting it cool. Put the chops in a covered container and pour the brine over them until they are submerged by at least a inch. Let sit for a minimum of six hours and maximum of a day.
Make the stuffing by sautéing the vegetables and any herbs you may like (thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley etc) and a little salt and pepper. Add the breadcubes and saute for another few minutes. Add the stock and stir until the bread becomes moistened. Take off the heat and stir an egg into the mixture. Pour into a greaded 9×9 glass baking pan and bake for 45 minutes.
While the stuffing is baking, take the chops out and pat them dry with a paper towel. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan. Put the chops in the pan and let the sear for 3-4 minutes on both sides. Take the chops out of the pan and add another tablespoon of butter to sauté the shallot. Saute the shallot and garlic until translucent and add the mustard and thyme. Let it sautee a bit longer to meld the mustard with the drippings and then add the stock. Scrape all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan into the sauce and let simmer for 5- 10 minutes. Pour on top of the chops and serve with the stuffing.