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Mar 7, 2008 02:19 PM

Heirloom Pork chops on the bone...recipe help..brining?

I bought two thick on the bone chops at a local Farmer's Market. (Union Square, NYC) I planned to brine them following the directions in the recipe below. But the farmer told me that brining was only necessary for supermarket chops and that his heirloom pork would be juicy enough without brining.

I followed the recipe and the chops, while very tasty, were a bit dry. I am wondering if the dryness was the result of not brining or of cooking too long in the oven...any thoughts on this or on whether or not it is crucial to brine heirloom pork..??

I have so little space in my refrigerator (and no garage) that I would rather avoid brining unless necessary.. These were the first pork chops I ever made and would like to repeat with better result..

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  1. Salt them lightly and put them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator overnight. Soaking them in brine adds water, which dilutes the flavor you're paying for. The salt adds flavor and seems to soften the meat and prevent toughness.

    If the chops have plenty of marbling (i.e., flecks fat within the grain of the meat, and not what's around the edge), you can cook them as you like. However, if there is little marbling, you must cook the shops slowly. I use a method I got from the NY Times many years ago.

    Heat a heavy frying pan until quite hot. If the chops are thick, brown the outer fat around the sides. If not, trim off some of the outer fat, dice it and melt it in the pan. Then cook the chops over high heat, 4 minutes on each side. Turn off the heat, cover the pan tightly and let it sit for 12 minutes.

    The interior of the chops may be a bit pink, but as long as the center has reached 137 degrees, trichinosis will be killed. I usually go to 145.

    The slow finishing retains the juiciness. You can use any sauce you like, including the one in the Times link, but I usually pour off the fat from the pan, reheat, add a splash of white wine and scrape up all the brown bits that stick to the pan.

    Grind some pepper, but you will need little or no salt, since you salted the meat before cooking.

    Good luck. Give us a report.

    2 Replies
    1. re: KRS

      Thank you both. The chops had lots of fat around the outside but were not marbled. I will try again with KRS plan first. And report back..

      1. re: KRS

        KRS: I made them last night with the Times recipe you posted above. But I seared them an extra minute on the first side to eliminate any chance of pink-ness which might cause the other diner here to reject them. Very easy! They did seem a slight bit dry, but I am beginning to think that that is the character of the pork..not as juicy as steak, for example. Next time I obviously will follow the recipe exactly..bring on the pinkness!

        I served them with the sauce and the onions/apples from the Landmarc recipe, and a white sweet potato. A good dinner.

      2. One other way to cook is, season to taste, I like to salt, pepper, garlic powder and use cornmeal, sear super hot, 1 minute on each side, lower the heat to low, cover, and cook 4-5 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness. A little pink should be okay, like KRS said. Chops are dry when it's overcooked.

        1. Good pork shouldn't need brining. I think the usual reason for dry pork is overcooking.

          1. I've made heirloom pork chops several different ways, but my favorite method is a dry spice rub about an hour before cooking the chops. I let them sit on the counter after rubbing in the spices to take the chill off the meat and then either BBQ or cook in a skillet for about four to five minutes per side depending on the thickness of the meat. I've noticed that bone-in chops will stay pink alongside the bone and I watch them carefully to cook until just done. Overdone pork is like overdone turkey. Dry and unappetizing. These heirloom rib in chops are so fantastic though, I'm sure you'll not want to go back to regular pork chops once you get the hang of it! My favorite dry rub is the Napa Valley Pork and Lamb rub - equally as tasty on lamb chops, and pre-made makes this a very quick weeknight dinner.