Quick-Brined Pork Chops with Pan-Fried Cauliflower

July 16, 2014 | By | COMMENTS

IMG_4750

For the past few months, I’ve been buying kosher chicken breasts from Trader Joe’s not because I prefer kosher chicken breasts but because Trader Joe’s is underneath my gym and it’s way easier to grab chicken there than to make an extra stop on my way home. The problem with this is that kosher chicken breasts are brined in salt water and, as a result, they’ve spoiled Craig for more ethical, more sustainable chicken from our local butchers. I know this because I recently bought chicken from one of them, sprinkled it with salt, and cooked it and though Craig enjoyed it–he enjoys all of my cooking–he didn’t like it as much as the brined stuff I get much more cheaply after jogging for 60 minutes to the Footloose soundtrack. Brining, it turns out, is a powerful technique.

Which is why, upon returning home one night with pork chops from McCall’s, I decided to give them a quick brine before cooking them in a super-hot cast iron skillet. My brine strategy was this: heat 2 cups of water with 1/4 cup salt, lemon peel, bay leaf, a chile de Arbol, and 2 crushed cloves of garlic.

IMG_4740

Then, once it boils for 60 seconds or so, turn off the heat and add two cups of icy ice water to help cool it down immediately.

IMG_4741

Why do it like that? Because heating up the liquid activates the aromatics and allows the salt to dissolve. But once hot, you can’t add your pork chops because then it’d be a breeding ground for bacteria. So you have to cool it back down quickly. The ice doesn’t actually do it; after that, I stuck the pot in my freezer for another 15 minutes. Then, when the liquid was at room temperature, I added the pork chops which I pricked, in a few places, with a fork.

IMG_4744

I left them like that for an hour at room temperature, turning them over every so often. When it was time to make dinner, I cut a cauliflower into florets and heated the largest non-stick skillet I had with a big glug of olive oil. When it was hot, I added all the florets and a big sprinkling of salt.

Cook that for a while, about 20 minutes or so, tossing and turning all the while–you don’t want the cauliflower to burn–adding, at the very, very end chopped garlic and parsley and whatever else you’d like (chile flakes, lemon juice, etc). Meanwhile, I heated my cast iron skillet with just salt–using this Julia Moskin technique–to get it super hot without oil catching on fire:

IMG_4745

When it started smoking, I patted the pork chops very dry and let them cook in there; about 2 to 3 minutes on that first side until it was golden brown, then a flip, then up on its side to render some of the fat. You’ll know it’s done when you press down and get a little resistance, but not no resistance (then you’ve overcooked it).

The resulting pork chops were infused with so much flavor from the brine, and also incredibly moist. The only drawback is that I don’t think they brown up as much doing it this way. It’s a fine trade-off, though, because it’s the best pork chop dinner I’ve ever made.

Now if only Trader Joe’s sold kosher pork chops, we’d be in business.

Tags: , , , , ,

Categories: Misc. Entrees, Recipes

  • smnokey

    I am sure you patted dry the pork. Other than that, have you considered a blow torch?

  • http://sp2111.jux.com/ juo

    I started with this like 2hours back…. You have very refined taste buds… ;)
    I m just sitting here reading about your cooking… Cant wait to try them…

  • jkeikilani

    Kosher pork chops? Now that’s an oxymoron.

  • Anonymous

    This sounds delicious, and I’m definitely going to try it!

    On another note, here’s a mention of The Skeleton Twins in TomandLorenzo.com, another one of my favorite blogs: http://tomandlorenzo.com/2014/07/kristen-wiig-for-elle-magazine/

  • Clairely

    This article from the LA Times on the best chicken sold in LA was eye opening regarding how flavor is affected by all production choices. My two biggest take always were that fresh isn’t always better and even organic, free range birds can taste bland if processed wrong.

  • Clairely
  • http://Healthyroadadventures.blogspot.com Angel

    Awesome!

  • ArleneDGargano

    Start working at home with<- Google! It's by-far the best job I've had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail

    —————————————————-

    Here ­­­­­­­­­is ­­­­­­­­­I ­­­­­­­­­started————- http://WWW.HugoWork75.COM

    —————————————————–

    GO TO THE SITE –>>>CLICK NEXT TAB FOR MORE INFO AND HELP

  • Julie Chase

    Dry off the pork chops as much as you can after you brine them-also, I like to sprinkle flour seasoned with fresh thyme and salt and pepper to the chops before searing. They get really brown that way.

  • Julie Chase

    Dry off the pork chops as much as you can after you brine them-also, I like to sprinkle flour seasoned with fresh thyme and salt and pepper to the chops before searing. They get really brown that way.

  • CelesteFGarcia

    Start working at home with<- Google! It's by-far the best job I've had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail

    —————————————————–

    Here ­­­­­­­­­is ­­­­­­­­­I ­­­­­­­­­started————- http://WWW.JOBSHUGO75.COM.

    —————————————————–

    GO TO THE SITE –>>>CLICK NEXT TAB FOR MORE INFO AND HELP

  • jesse s. pierce

    like Jacob said I’m stunned that a single mom can get paid $9572 in one month on the computer . hop over to this site
    ========>>>>> http://WWW.MONEYKIN.COM

  • DorothyGSteffes

    my friend’s step-mother makes $73 every hour on the computer. She has been out of a job for 7 months but last month her pay was $7220 just working on the computer for a few hours.

    ——————————————

    Read more on this web siteWORkbuCK.COM

    ——————————————

    GO TO THE SITE –>>>>CLICK NEXT TAB FOR MORE INFO AND HELP.///.

  • DorothyGSteffes

    my friend’s step-mother makes $73 every hour on the computer. She has been out of a job for 7 months but last month her pay was $7220 just working on the computer for a few hours.

    ——————————————

    Read more on this web siteWORkbuCK.COM

    ——————————————

    GO TO THE SITE –>>>>CLICK NEXT TAB FOR MORE INFO AND HELP.///.

  • DorothyGSteffes

    my friend’s step-mother makes $73 every hour on the computer. She has been out of a job for 7 months but last month her pay was $7220 just working on the computer for a few hours.

    ——————————————

    Read more on this web siteWORkbuCK.COM

    ——————————————

    GO TO THE SITE –>>>>CLICK NEXT TAB FOR MORE INFO AND HELP.///.

  • DorothyGSteffes

    my friend’s step-mother makes $73 every hour on the computer. She has been out of a job for 7 months but last month her pay was $7220 just working on the computer for a few hours.

    ——————————————

    Read more on this web siteWORkbuCK.COM

    ——————————————

    GO TO THE SITE –>>>>CLICK NEXT TAB FOR MORE INFO AND HELP.///.

  • Daryl

    Oh, man. Wow, gotta say, do NOT cook the brined pork chops in a salted skillet. The chops come out way way way way too salty. Couldn’t eat them. Sorry. The cauliflower was to die for, though.