(Lago Vista is an upscale suburb of Austin, TX)
What is this “brining” business in pork chop recipes? Brining all types of meat will add a considerable amount of water prior to cooking, thus; the meat is juicier and extremely tender. The total weight of a pork chop can actually increase by 15% or more. This water weight takes time to cook out, but the amount of water that remains in a chop during the cooking process increases quite a bit. Hence, you have a moister and more flavorful pork chop.
The fundamental method for mixing a brine solution is one cup of non-iodized salt to one gallon of water. Whereas under-brining will not have a negative impact on foods, over-brining can be catastrophic. By using too much salt or soaking for too long will render an inedible, salty cut of meat. The mixture should be salty to taste but not viscous with salt. This mixture takes for granted that you are using regular table salt. If instead you are using sea salt or kosher salt, another half cup or so should be added. Kosher and sea salts weigh less by volume.
When it comes to how long you should brine pork, less is always more. In other words, it is better to brine too little than too long. While some cuts of pork can soak for days in brine, even a fairly small amount of time can make a huge difference.
Pork usually takes a good long while to obtain the full effect. Don’t even bother brining pork if you can’t allow at least an hour or two. However, if you are working with smaller cuts of pork, even 45 minutes can suffice. Whatever you do, don’t brine longer than the chart below recommends:
Pork Chops (1 to 1 1/2 inches thick) – 1 to 3 hours
Whole Pork Tenderloin - 6 hours
Whole Pork Loin – 1 day
1/2 cup sea salt
3 TBSP sugar
1 TBSP light brown sugar
8 cups of water
4 (2-inch thick) pork chops, split, bone-in; rib loin
2 slices chopped bacon
2 stalks minced celery
1 small minced white onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1 TBSP fresh, chopped rosemary leaves
1 TBSP fresh chopped sage leaves
2 TBSPs fresh chopped parsley leaves
2 1/2 cups crumbled cornbread
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chicken broth
Salt and pepper
Beat salt and sugars in the 8 cups of cold water. Add pork chops, cover and refrigerate for 1.5 hours. Remove pork chops from brine and pat dry.
Fry bacon in a heavy skillet. Add celery, onion and garlic and sauté with bacon. Add the rosemary, sage and parsley leaves after bacon has cooked for 9 minutes. Continue to sauté until aromatic. Salt and pepper to taste.
In a bowl, combine broth, cornbread, and dried cranberries. Add vegetable mixture and mix well.
Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
Use salt and pepper to season pork chops. Stuff each pork chop with 1/2 cup of stuffing. Use toothpicks to hold pork chops together. Grill for 6 minutes per side. Internal temperature should be 145 °. Let stuffed pork chops rest for 5 minutes before serving.