I'm sorry for not having posted in so long, but the holidays were crazy busy, with lots of cooking and lots of tasty food! But I'm back, and new recipes are soon to follow!
To tide you over (and I'm sorry I've no pictures of this, but we ate them so fast, they were so awesome! I'll add them the next time I make it), I made the juciest, tenderest, most flavorful brined pork chops tonight!
A NOTE TO THOSE AFRAID OF EATING TOO MUCH SALT: Yes, there's a lot of salt in the brine, but it doesn't make the meat salty. Google osmosis and brining, and you'll find out the purpose of the salt. My understanding is that cells have a saline, or salt and water solution in them, and the liquid in the cells in the meat has a tendency to move toward areas of higher salt concentration... therefore when you put meat in a brine, the moisture leaves the meat until the meat is saltier than the brine is, but then the moisture that evacuated the meat decides, "hey, the cells in the meat are saltier than this brine!" and all the moisture goes back into the cells of the meat, carrying the flavor with it. If that makes any sense. Alton Brown describes it way better than I do. Anyway, without further ado:
Brined Pork Chops
(This recipe can easily be halved for only making 2 pork chops)
4 thick-cut, single or butterflied pork chops
1 Tbsp oil or bacon drippings
2c. of water + 2 chicken boullion cubes OR 2 cups chicken broth
1/4c. regular table salt
1/4c. packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2c. ice water
Bring the brine ingredients EXCEPT the ice water to a simmer on the stove and stir until solids are dissolved. Remove from heat and take the dogs out for their afternoon "walk" for a few minutes. Come back, and add the ice water to the brine, cooling it to room temperature. Place the pork chops into a gallon ziplock bag inside a glass dish in case it leaks. Pour the room temperature brine over the pork chops and close the bag, squeezing out as much of the air as possible. Stash in the fridge for anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours, but no longer than 2 hours. Retrieve your pork chops, give them a thorough rinse under cold running water, and pat them dry. Season the outsides with fresh cracked pepper (no salt is necessary!) and place in a hot skillet with the oil or bacon drippings. Cook pork chops on each side until an instant read thermometer reads between 130-135 degrees, for medium doneness. Remove the pork chops from heat and allow to rest on a plate, loosely covered with aluminum foil for about 5-10 minutes. Enjoy with some steamed veggies and rice or stuffing!