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Jul 24, 2006 03:21 PM

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.



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  1. 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.

    1. thx for the reply
      when you brine your pork crown roast, does the brine turn slick?

      1 Reply
      1. re: pitu

        No it doesn't. It does become a little discolored and cloudy but not slimy in feel.

      2. 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.

        1. 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...

          1. it would be interesting to compare the chops, brined and not brined, side by side.

            3 Replies
            1. re: josh L

              I did this experiment last year when the butcher gave me 2 Boston Butts for pulled pork - could swear I only asked for one.
              Anyway, the consensus on identical products was that the non-brined one was better.
              I was surprised.

              1. re: Mila

                Repeat this experiment with two pork tenderloins, and I think you will reach a diferent conclusion. Boston butts have lots of fat, and therefore cook up moist and don't need brining. With the lean tenderloins, however, brining is a sure-fire improvement.

                1. re: pikawicca

                  Thanks pikawicca, that makes perfect sense. I will try it out on tenderloin or chops which can dry out quickly.