Brined and Grilled Pork Chops
Brined and Oak Grilled Bone-In Pork Chop
with Apple Raisin Chutney
PORK CHOP BRINE
(note that one of my cooks wrote 1 onion sliced at the end but I had already written sliced onion as the 6th ingredient on the list but omitted an amount. No need for two onions, one is plenty!)
Chutney recipe for Grilled Pork Chops
Yet another recipe written quickly on the back of an old menu
A few months ago my friend, Monica, who lives in Germany asked me for a pork chop recipe. They were having company that weekend and she wanted to know the best way to prepare pork chops. I told her that I've made pork chops 101 ways and the absolute best way to cook them is to brine them first. Then of course here in California where Santa Maria Style barbecue was invented, we grill them over oak. But I knew she wasn't going to be able to grill them over an oak pit barbecue in Germany so I said a regular gas grill with some wood chips would be a great substitute.
I also usually try to buy pork that is a Duroc Hampshire cross because I think it has the most flavor but for sure the common Yorkshire Pork that everyone has access too is also delicious when brined.
I didn't have any recipes typed up so I just took photos of the handwritten recipes I had and tried to type up some quick directions in an email and send them off. Then I then decided that my friend, Katie Hutchison in Virginia, s such a good cook too, that she wouldn't mind this kind of rough unedited version of the directions so I forwarded Monica's email to her. Katie immediately wrote back and said: "Sometimes, I am quite sure God’s love extends to the sweetly almost humorous. Literally, I was sitting not half an hour ago thinking about pork chops. I am re-reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society for our next book party gathering which is on Saturday. The one thing we HAVE to have is pork because it was a roast pig that got the whole thing going, but I have not got a single recipe that comes out consistently well for pork and I was hesitant to give it a try. But now I absolutely will. Of all the spontaneous recipes for you to send!! :) "
Both friends wrote back after their successful cooking weekends that the recipe was the best pork chops they had ever had. Basically the reason it is good is because pork can be dry and brining it makes it moist. And again, if you don't have an oak grill you can smoke the pork chops in a smoker, grill them on gas grill or even sear them in a cast iron or other sauté pan.
BRINED PORK CHOPS
If you are buying a whole pork loin, then slice the pork into the individual chops. If it is already sliced when you buy it then you can obviously skip this step. You only want to brine the pork chops for a minimum of 4 hours and a maximum of 24 hours. 4-6 hours is ideal. If you brine them for over 24 hours they can potentially get too salty. You can remove the pork chops from the brine and keep them wrapped and refrigerated and cook them a couple days later, just be sure to remove them from the brine before instead of letting them sit in it for two days.
It is important to pat the pork chops try so that they will brown properly. After they are dry, coat them in olive oil and sprinkle them with kosher salt.
For the pork chops:
Use as many pork chops as you would like to cook. This brine should be enough for at least 12 pork chops.
Enough Olive Oil and Kosher Salt to coat the pork chops on both sides
For the brine:
8 cups hot water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt
1 teaspoon of red chili flakes (or more to taste)
2 teaspoons dried fennel seeds
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 bay leaf
1 lemon, sliced in half and juice squeezed into the bring and then put the remaining squeezed lemon peel in the brine. (you can substitute an orange if you wish)
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, (optional)
Bring the water to a boil on a stove. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and salt until they completely dissolve. After the sugar and salt are dissolved put a few ice cubes in the brine to cool it down. Add the rest of the ingredients. Make sure the brine is cooled to at least room temperature or fully chilled before you put the pork.
I brine my pork chops in deep, heat and freezer proof, restaurant containers but you can put them in a heatproof baking dish or even a freezer thick ziplock bag. Just be sure the pork chops are fully submerged and surrounded with the brine liquid.
After the pork chops have brined for 4-6 hours, remove them from the brine and pat them dry. (At this point, after they are removed from the brine, you can wrap and hold them for two days before you grill them. Just don't leave them in the brine for two days! Be sure to remove them within 24 hours.)
Just before cooking them coat the pork chops on both sides with olive oil and kosher salt. Remember that there hasn't been a case of trichinosis in the USA since the 1970's so cooking pork medium is not only perfectly safe, it is very delicious. So aim for making them at least a little pink inside.
I serve my pork chops with either sliced sautéed apples or apple chutney. I also love caramelized onions and apples. Cinnamon apples are another favorite and to make those I sauté apples in butter with a little brown sugar and cinnamon. That alone is so good. I also like apples roasted with root vegetables like parsnips and rutabagas. I'm completely crazy about homemade sauerkraut. (My favorite video on sauerkraut from Laura Miller is no longer available but here is a fun one from Brad at Bon Appetit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snxb_PSe3Ps The key is to always keep the sauerkraut covered in liquid, if it is exposed to air it will mold/rot instead of ferment.) If you don't have time to make sauerkraut I also love sautéed red cabbage with pork chops. I love the pork chops with baked potatoes or the German noodles Spätzle. Here is the video on how to make Spätzle. It is very quick and easy. http://themailifiles.blogspot.com/2019/02/doris-holzheus-spatzle.html
The point of my digression is that there are many delicious options that go with pork chops. So now back to the chutney recipe... And there are many variations on chutney but here is one I've made frequently.
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced yellow onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 diced apples
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons or more minced candied ginger (to your taste)
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, sherry vinegar or champagne vinegar
1 cup golden raisins
pinch of red chili flakes or pinch of cayenne pepper, optional if you like it spicy
In a large sauté pan over medium high heat sauté the onion in the olive oil until soft. Add the salt to the onion while it is cooking.
Add the apples and sauté for a few minutes. Add the butter and brown sugar and cook for another minute until the brown sugar is dissolved and the apples and onions are coated. Add the minced ginger, rice wine vinegar, raisins and chili flakes. Cook for a few minutes until combined and heated through.
The chutney can be made up to a week in advance and reheated before service.
Note: If you just want the sautéed apple flavor and not the sweet/sour chutney taste you can elminate the vinegar.