Chrysta 10 min. 15 min.

Pork is much leaner today than the pork many of us grew up on.  It’s the age-old story of supply and demand.  The poultry industry promoted the health benefits of chicken (especially white meat), and so chickens were bred with bigger breasts. (insert joke here).

 To compete with chicken, the pork industry started breeding leaner pigs to be “the other white meat,” which happened to be the industry slogan in 1987 until recently. 

 Today’s pork products contain over 20% more protein and almost 60% less fat than the pigs of the 1970’s. 

Why were Pigs so fat back then?  America used to breed pigs for their fat because the fat was used for everything:  frying chicken, roasting potatoes, and even making piecrusts.  Now we have other alternatives, which has decreased our need for such pork fat.

The result of this pork modification is that most commercially available pork products aren’t as flavorful as the pork of yesterday, and their super leanness means they can overcook quickly. 

One way to infuse flavor and moisture into your pork is flavor brine. 

Brine is a salty, flavored liquid that meat soaks in for 2-24 hours and helps meat absorb flavor and retain moisture during the cooking process.

Most brines start with water and salt, but it’s the extra ingredients in this brine that made for one of the BEST pork chops I’ve had all year.

Make this for your Labor Day gathering and no one will be wondering where the steaks are!

Recipe:  Apple Cider Brined Pork Chops

Enough bring for 4 6-ounce pork chops

Ingredients:

3/4 Cup of Apple Cider Vinegar

1 ½ Cup of Water

1/3 Cup light brown sugar, packed

4 tbsp. table salt

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 tsp. worstershire sauce

1 tsp. crushed garlic (or 1-2 cloves, grated/crushed)

4 6-ounce pork chops, 2′-3′ thick cut, boneless.

Directions

1. Combine all ingredients (except pork chops) into a saucepot.

2. Over medium heat, stir ingredients together until sugar has dissolved.

3. Remove from the brining marinade from the heat.

4. You must rapidly cool the brining marinade before you add the pork chops.  You can do this one of three ways:

  1. Place brining marinade into the freezer until cool, about 30 minutes.
  2. Place brining marinade into the fridge until cool, about 45 minutes.
  3. Let brining marinade cool room temperature for about an hour.
  4. Place pork chops in a resealable zip-top plastic bag.

5. Once brine is cool to the touch (doesn’t need to be cold), pour over the pork and seal plastic baggie.

6.  Place plastic bag in a bowl or on a plate (just in case the bag leaks) and place in the fridge for at least two hours, up to 24.  I marinated the pork for 14 hours, and it was exquisite.

Cooking the pork:

You can use whatever method you like.  Here’s how I cooked mine to perfection, using a pan sear + oven roasting technique.  This technique gives a brown crust and seals in moisture before is roasts in the oven.  The result is a very moist pork chop.

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2.  Add olive oil (or vegetable oil) to a frying pan and heat over a medium-high flame (to about 350 degrees.)

3.  Remove pork chop from the brine, and shake dry.

4.  Cook pork chop for  4 minutes on each side.  Do not lift the pork chop off of the surface of the pan during that 4 minutes:  you want to get a good sear.

5.  Remove pork from sauté pan and place on a foil-lined (or rack-lined) cookie/baking sheet. 

6.  Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted in the pork reads 150-155 degrees.   

If you like your pork medium doneness (which is now “allowed” ) cook for 11-12 minutes in the oven or remove when internal temperature is  140 degrees.