November 13, 2010
Grilled Pork Chops w/ Alton Brown's Pork Chop Brine
When I think of pork chops I think of a pan seared no flavor dinner disaster. I guess this is just how I remember pork chops from my youth.
I was walking through the grocery store and I saw some incredible bone-in pork chops and a light bulb went off. These chops were so attractive that I knew that if I brined them and grilled them they would turn out well. This is my first stab at grilling pork chops and what a success it was. Delicious!
Two bone in pork chops
Ingredients for the brine:
(scaled down for two pork chops)
1/2 cup of salt (a bit less if you want)
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 T whole peppercorns
1/2 T ground mustard
1 cup of boiling hot microwaved apple cider vinegar
1/2 lb of ice cubes (yes I weighed them out)
Alton Brown usually has some incredible ideas when it comes to cooking so I decided to search for an Alton Brown pork chop brine. I found a quick and easy two hour mustard brine that he uses for his stuffed pork chop recipe. I didn't want to stuff the chops this time so I just snagged his brine to soften up the pork and to provide some flavor. To make the brine I mixed the salt, brown sugar, ground mustard, and pepper into a decent sized plastic bowl. I then microwaved 1 cup of apple cider vinegar and poured it over the dry ingredients and gave them a nice mix to dissolve everything. Then I tossed in the ice cubes so I wouldn't be cooking my pork chops in boiling brine. Finally the pork chops went into the brine and the whole thing went into the fridge for 2 hours (no more than 2 hours or you'll have a salty mess).
After the two hour brine I took the pork chops and rinsed them under cold water to remove any excess surface salt. Brining can easily over salt your meat so you have to rinse afterwards.
I prepared the charcoal grill for a medium high heat and the plan was to grill the pork chops over direct heat for 3 minutes per side and then finish the cooking over indirect heat for a couple of minutes until the pork chops were cooked completely through. Nowadays the risk of Trichinosis (infection with a live round worm) is quite small due to much better farming and government guidelines for pork but I'm not so keen on medium rare pork! And the brine allows us to cook it completely and still retain the juicyness of a medium cooked steak.
The pork chops only took about 3-4 min each side on indirect heat. To be honest I cut into the chops to make sure they were white thoughout. What a fantastic flavor! The dried mustard and apple cider vinegar provide a nice bite to the pork and the brine really made the pork juicy! I'm thrilled with this meal and will certainly be doing it again.