Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Roasted Brined Pork Chops with Steamed Potatoes

Let’s talk brining. You don’t have to do it, but if you’ve got time (about four hours, in this case) to let these semi-thick-cut chops rest in a salty bath, the juicy, tender results will be worth it. Larger pieces of meat or poultry need to soak longer—often overnight—to gain the full effect of brining, but a few hours is all it takes to turn individual pieces into succulent morsels that stay moist throughout cooking. Meat or poultry roasted at high temperatures can dry out quickly, but brining helps keep it hydrated from the inside out.

Brining is also one of the easiest, hands-off preparations for meat. Simply dissolve salt and sugar in an ample amount of water, add a few other seasonings, and leave it alone. In this recipe, I included peppercorns and fresh herb sprigs in the brine, but feel free to choose your own seasonings, or go with just salt, sugar, and water. The tenderization will be the same. (Other common brine ingredients include allspice berries, coriander seeds, red pepper flakes, fennel seeds, and bay leaves.)

Once the brining is finished, this simple meat-and-potatoes dinner comes together in 30 minutes. Here, I used creamy fingerling potatoes, but baby red or yellow potatoes would be a good choice too.

A drizzle of honey over the chops and melted butter over the potatoes completes the dish with a flavorful, simple-as-it-gets finish.

Serves 4

  • 1/3 cup fine salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 8-10 black peppercorns
  • 2 tarragon sprigs (about 4 inches each)
  • 1 rosemary sprig (about 4 inches), plus chopped rosemary for garnish
  • 4 center-cut, bone-in pork chops, about 3/4-inch thick
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 lbs fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
  • honey, for drizzling
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
Fingerling Potatoes
  1. Place the salt and sugar in a large, deep bowl and fill about halfway with water. Stir until the salt and sugar are completely dissolved. Add the peppercorns and herb sprigs. Place the chops in the brine, submerging completely. (Add more water, if needed.) Cover with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate 4-5 hours.
Chops in Brine
  1. Preheat the oven to 425° F
  2. Heat a large, ovenproof (preferably cast-iron) skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil, swirling to coat. Remove the chops from the brine and pat dry. Season both sides with sea salt (light on the salt) and black pepper. Place in the pan and sear until lightly charred on the bottom, 4-5 minutes.
  3. Turn the chops over and place the skillet in the oven. Roast until the meat is just cooked through, 5-6 minutes, or until done, depending on thickness.
Brined Chops

Beginning to Cook

After Turning

Roasted Pork Chops
  1. Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a large steamer basket and steam until tender when pierced with a fork, 15-17 minutes, depending on size. Season potatoes with salt and pepper.

Ready to Steam
Divide the chops and potatoes among 4 plates. Drizzle the chops with honey and the potatoes with melted butter. Garnish all with chopped rosemary and serve right away.

Roasted Brined Pork Chops with Steamed Potatoes

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