This was one of the best week night dinners I’ve had in a long time. Delicious and so easy with just a little planning. I made the brine on Sunday, put in pork chops and some skinless chicken breasts and I had two fantastic dinners that would take only a few minutes of active time! Perfect in my book. If you don’t have a grill, you can cook the pork chops (and chicken) in a pan or broil them, but either way, you’ll have a succulent piece of meat. I made a roasted apple sauce and broccolini to go along, but you could make anything you like. The pork gets lots of flavor from the brine, so really didn’t need much to go with it. (For the second dinner with the chicken, I grilled the breasts and made a Marsala wine sauce with mushrooms.)
The brine is from the Zuni Café Cookbook by Judy Rogers and the Roasted Apples recipe was inspired by the same book.
Brine for 2-4 pork chops(bone in or loin chops work equally well)
Meat can be brined for 2-4 days
5 cups water
2-3 crumbled bay leaves
1-2 tsp crushed juniper berries
1-2 dried chilies
6 tblsp sugar
3 tblsp salt ( a little more if it’s kosher)
Put one cup of the water in a saucepan with the bay leaves, juniper berries and chilies. Bring to a simmer, stirring a bit to crush the aromatics. Let sit for 10 minutes or so to let the flavors infuse. Add aromatics to the rest of the water and add sugar and salt. Dry meat and place in brine. Put in refrigerator and keep till ready to cook, 2-4 days. Take out an hour or so ahead of cooking if possible.
When ready to cook, take meat out of brine and rinse well. Dry on paper towels and let sit until ready to cook, at least 15 minutes but up to 45.
If grilling, coat meat with olive oil and place on hot grill. Close lid and let cook for 2-4 minutes depending on thickness and size of meat. Turn and cook about the same on the other side. Check temperature or pierce with a knife to check for doneness after about 8 minutes of total cooking time (knife should go in smoothly with no resistance). Be careful not to overcook!
Serve with Roasted Apples-recipe following-or your favorite sauce.
For two people
2 apples (Braeburns, Pippins or Gala-I used Gala)
1-2 tsp of sugar, depending on tartness of apples and your preference
1 shallot, diced
generous splash white wine
1 tblsp sliced sage
2 tblsp butter
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Peel, core and quarter the apples. Place in a baking dish in a single layer, crowding is fine. Add shallots, sage, sugar, salt, pepper and generous splash of white wine. Dot with butter. Cover tightly and roast until the apples start to soften, 15 -30 minutes.
Uncover, raise heat to 500 degrees and cook for another 10 minutes or until the apples turn golden and start to dry out.
When the fruit is tender and golden, mash with a fork and taste. Add more salt or sugar if needed and serve with pork chops.