March 14, 2006

Corsican Brined Pork Chops

Corsican Brined Pork Chops
from The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen by Paula Wolfert

1/8 cup kosher salt
1 1/2 TBSP sugar
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp crushed juniper berries
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cracked black peppercorns
1/8 tsp dried sage
1 bay leaf, crumbled
2 center cut pork chops
3/4 TBSP olive oil
freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 TBSP vermouth
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/8 cup orange juice
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
2 tsp finely slivered fresh basil

In a large bowl or container, combine salt with sugar and 1/2 cup hot water; stir until dissolved. Add 2 cups cold water, the thyme, juniper berries, coriander, peppercorns, sage, and bay leaf. Put the chops in the brine, cover and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours.

Drain the pork chops. Pick any whole spices off the meat and discard. Pat the chops dry with paper towels.

Heat the olive oil in a large, deep nonstick or black cast-iron skillet until it shimmers. Add the pork chops and cook over high heat, turning once, until browned, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the chops to a plate and season with pepper.

Pour off any fat from the skillet. Add the chicken stock and vermouth and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Boil until the liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, orange juice, and garlic and simmer 5 minutes.

Return the pork chops to the skillet, turn to coat with the sauce, and bring to a boil. Cover tightly, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the pork is tender and fully cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chops to a platter, cover, and keep warm.

Boil remaining sauce over high heat until the liquid is reduced to about a cup. Stir in the basil and pour the sauce over the chops.

Notes: My version is just a teensy bit altered from the one in the cookbook. I completely left out the olives, and used ground coriander instead of seeds as well as vermouth in place of white wine. But I did get to try out juniper berries for the first time. My only note would be to check the proportion of salt and sugar in other brine solutions as this was just a tad saliter than I wanted it to be. Otherwise, it tasted great and I want to be sure to use this cookbook more in the future.

Posted by Jennifer at March 14, 2006 8:51 AM | TrackBack

This really was delicious, with very tender pork and a complex blend of flavors. And if it was a bit less salty it would have been even better. I'll hope to have this one again someday.

Posted by: Michael at March 20, 2006 10:11 PM
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