Friday, September 14, 2012
Brining pork chops
In my last entry, I wrote about my unsatisfactory experiment with brining chicken. But I have had much more joy from brining pork chops.
This time, I took my advice from Matthew Fort, who in turn was indebted to Heston Blumenthal in recommending a 5% solution. My brine consisted of 1 litre of water, 50g table salt, 25g caster sugar, and about 10 black peppercorns and 10 juniper berries, the latter lightly crushed. I put three chops in an oven dish, poured over the brine, covered the dish with cling film, and refrigerated it for 4 hours.
My mistake was to fail to dry the chops thoroughly. I put my heavy, shallow oven dish over a medium heat on the hob, waited for it to get hot, poured in a little sunflower oil, and fried the chops. But because of their moisture, they failed to brown. So I had to turn up the heat to maximum. The result was that there were lots of charred patches on the dish by the time the chops were browned. So I had to clean the pan before making the sauce, sacrificing a good deal of flavoursome material.
I put the chops in a low oven while I softened four sliced shallots, along with four bashed cloves of garlic (to flavour the sauce, rather than to be eaten with it), in a little butter. Then I added a tbsp of white wine vinegar, boiled it hard to evaporate it, and poured in 150ml of chicken stock, boiling it until it thickened slightly. Last, away from the heat, I stirred in a knob of butter.
Pork chops are so often dry and tough. These were tender and delicious.