Zuni pork chop brine QUESTION: was I growing something cooty?
wet brine of pork loin chops, from the Zuni cookbook . . .
it was DELICIOUS, but the brine was very gloppy and thick after 4 days in the fridge
and I wonder if that is normal. Or...was something growing?
Nobody got sick from our grilled chops - which I rinsed and patted dry, per instructions - but I was a little curious about the viscous brine. It's water, salt, sugar, chiles and bay leaf. I added star anise, which was fabulous - the flavors of the aromatics are very subtle in the meat.
It was in the fridge for four days; Zuni recommends 2-4 days of this wet brine.
2 to 4 days seems a bit long to brine pork chops. I wouldn't take it past a day or so. I've brined pork crown roasts for 4-5 days but that's a big piece of meat.
I doubt that anything bad was happening in the brine. The salt concentration is too high for bacterial growth. It draws fluid out of the meat so it may have changed composition over the 4 days.
While I am a huge fan of salt brining chicken, I am ani-wet brine for most types of meat. I really don't like the mushy consistency. If you buy good fatty pork like berkshire pork chops, you dont need to mess with brining. The pork speaks for itself. Fairway sells berkshire chops for seven bucks a pound, amazing deal and the best chops around.
I was pretty pleased with the results of the wet brine process -- this is the first time for me. The meat was quality organic freerange et al and might have been perfectly gorgeous without the bath.
BUT I have to say, with the brining the texture was great - not mushy - and the subtle chipotle/anise flavor rocked.
There's no acid (citrus, vinegar etc) in the soak, which might certainly deteriorate the texture...