It might surprise you to hear, prior to this meal, I had never brined anything. The idea of my meat sitting in a ziplock with salt water was not appealing. I had images of month-long, ocean travel forming in my head. The kind without refrigeration, as I am aware this process was used to preserve food. However, my one and only experience with brining has changed my mind and made me a believer. I'm not sure I ever want to eat another pork chop that hasn't spent some quality time floating in a salty solution. That's right. These chops were that good, and here I quote the husband, "This is definitely the best pork chop I have ever had, at home, that wasn't breaded. Probably."
You might have gathered from the statement above, we often bread our pork chops. That way they stay moist, it's fool-proof. So last week when I discovered two, fat chops in the back of my freezer, my first inclination was to make our chops and mashed potatoes meal. Which we do well. But, then I said to myself, these chops are so nice and fat, it would be a shame to pound them out. Then I also said to myself, how long have these been in the freezer? I had no answer to the second question, and decided to try brining them, to add moisture into these mystery chops. Instead of looking up a recipe, I filled a ziplock bag with water, added a couple of tablespoons of salt, and let them sit overnight in the fridge. I was not sure what to expect.
The next day I googled pork chop recipes until I came across a rosemary rub from The Kitchn. The picture of the raw chops covered with rosemary won me over. When I got home, I drained my chops, let them dry out for about an hour, applied the rub, and let them marinade for another hour. The result was one tasty pork chop. Definitely the best I've made at home. Probably.
Along with the pork, I served a potato and squash (home-grown! our first of the season) hash. Simple. Took some time, as potatoes tend to do, but it was delicious, with minimal spices -- salt, pepper, cumin, paprika and garlic. I started off with caramelizing a white onion, then adding my potatoes, and in the last 15 minutes, adding the squash. I can eat potatoes prepared this way every night.
Sometimes, at work, I dream about these potatoes. On evenings when the husband has other plans, or school, I will go home, open a bottle of white wine, start cooking my potatoes, and hang out in the kitchen, reorganizing the pantry, and enjoying my 40 minutes of quiet time as the potatoes sizzle away. Topped with ketchup and hot sauce, this is the ultimate comfort dish for me.
Simple Rosemary-Rubbed Pork Chopsfrom The Kitchn
Makes four servings
4 pork loin chops (about 1/2 pound each)
1 - 2 teaspoons olive oil for the pan
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin (I added more)
(I also added 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper)
Combine rosemary, brown sugar, salt, pepper and cumin in a small bowl. Rub mixture all over chops. Let spices penetrate meat for a few minutes before cooking. If there's time, cover and put in refrigerator for a few hours before cooking.
If chops have been refrigerated, remove from refrigerator and let the chill dissipate for 10-15 minutes. Cook on an oiled, pre-heated (medium-high) grill-pan or skillet, oiled grill about 5 minutes on each side.