I love pork chops, and my favorite way to prepare them is with a chipotle brine. Almost everyone skips brining their meat, but learning how to make a brine for my pork and chicken recipes have really been beneficial. My wife and I can’t cook a pork chop or a Thanksgiving turkey anymore without good soaking in a delicious brine.
If you don’t know what a brine is, it’s pretty simple. It’s just a salty liquid. The most important reason to use a brine is to improve the overall juiciness of the meat you are soaking in the brine. Brining works wonderfully with virtually all cuts of poultry and pork.
In this blog, we are going to stick to cooking pork chops. I feel pork chops are the one cut of meat that is traditionally cooked to oblivion and usually to the point of it being dry and tough. Using a brine fixes both of these issues.
My pork chop brines are usually composed of 10 parts water and 1 part salt by weight. I start with 500 grams of water, 500 grams of ice cubes, and 100 grams of salt. I know weighing out water and salt seems a little anal retentive, but it’s the one sure way my brine concentration is always consistent. A food scale is probably the most used tool in my kitchen.
Start by heating the water in a small sauce pan and add the salt. Bring the salt water to a simmer. This is where things can get fun. At this point you can add spices, herbs, or whatever other additions you want to add to your brine. I usually add at least some type of onion, garlic, and black pepper at this time. Let everything simmer for approximately 5 minutes and turn off the heat.
The next step is critical from a food safety stand point. You want to let your brine cool off for about 20-30 minutes. Then add the ice cubes to your brine. You want your brine cold. You never want to stick your pork chops or any meat into a warm brine. A warm brine could potentially take your meat out of the safe-zone for food storage and that could potentially lead to too many trips to the bathroom. If the ice cubes didn’t bring your brine below 40 degrees F, go a head and stash it in the fridge for an hour or until it’s cool enough to use. You could even make this brine the night before and stash it in the fridge.
Ok, so you have your cold brine. Now put your pork chops into a ziploc baggie and add the brine. Try and remove as much of the air as possible. How long you need to brine will be dependent on how thick your chops are. If they are on the thin side (say less than 1/2 an inch), an hour should be long enough. If your pork chops are 1/2 inch to an inch thick, you can brine for 2-3 hours.
Below is my favorite pork chop brine recipe. It’s creates a perfect juicy pork chop that cooks well on the grill or cast-iron skillet. It’s simple, tasty, and is easily adjustable to your tastes.
Simmer for 5 minutes
Let brine cool for 15 to 20 minutes
Add the ice cubes and chill the brine in the fridge until it is cooler than 40 degrees F
My wife and I eat these brined pork chops pretty often. We like to serve the pork chops with a side of veggies and a cream cheese chipotle sauce. I’m not sure if you can really call it a sauce, but it is delicious. The sauce is cream cheese, chipotle pepper chopped, and some of the adobo sauce that came with the chipotle pepper. Just mix them up really well and serve with your pork chop. The cream cheese and heat from the peppers play very well together.
Other recipes for pork, including bacon