I've also cooked them for myself, trying all sorts of methods to give these wan pink pucks some life. They've been stuffed with slutty cheeses, covered in herbs and panko, fried and sauced. And because I'm a good cook, they come out better than expected. But still, they're not up to my slutty standards and are only prepared when I haven't cooked them in a while and have thusly forgotten just how boring and shitty they can be.
Until I started brining them.
A good friend of ours served pork roast the size of a small toddler (don't you just love that imagery?) a few months ago and I couldn't get enough of the moist meat. I know, that sounds icky and I hate the word moist as much as you do but it's really the only correct word to describe his superb meal. The outer surface almost had a skin to it and the inner texture was so juicy and tender I could barely keep from taking my plate to a corner of the room so I could enjoy it in blissful solitude. He revealed that he had brined it for 36 hours and I knew I had to get in on this practice immediately. After a bit of trial and error with pork chops (because of course I'm not going to make a damn entire roast on a Tuesday night), I've found that 10 hours seems to do the trick with bone-in, French-cut chops. Get them from your local butcher (I don't want to hear about your stupid mass-market boneless bullshit).
And a word about the apple-onion chutney: we all know apples are a great pairing for pork, but the whole concept just bores me. It makes me think of hipster couples going apple picking in the fall and being all cutesy until they get home with said apples and can't figure out what to do with them. So, I decided to slut them up with onions, butter, Dijon mustard, honey and rosemary.
Brined Pork Chops with Apple Onion Chutney
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup water
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon coriander
1 cup apple cider
2 French-cut, bone-in pork chops
1/2 red onion, diced
2 tablespoons butter
1 Honeycrisp (or similar) apple, diced
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons bacon fat or oil with a high heat tolerance
Combine salt, brown sugar, water, bay leaf, coriander and cider in a medium bowl. Throw the pork chops in there and put it in the fridge for 10 hours. Halfway through, turn the pork chops to make sure each side is getting some brine love.
Just before you cook the chops, make the chutney. In a medium skillet, cook the onion with the butter on medium high heat for about 7 minutes or until edges have browned, stirring occasionally. Add the apples and cook for another 7 minutes, or until they're soft and the edges have browned. Turn heat to low. In a small bowl, whisk together the Dijon mustard, honey and rosemary. Stir this mixture into the apples and onion and turn heat to high, allowing the liquid to bubble. Turn back to low and keep warm while you make the chops.
Heat your oven to 450 degrees. Get an oven-proof skillet super crazy hot. Drain your pork chops, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then smear them with the bacon fat. Sear them on one side (don't even think about moving/poking/molesting them!) for 4 minutes. Flip them over, then put the whole skillet in the oven for 7 minutes or until the internal temp is 140 degrees. Plate them with the chutney either on top or on the side. These suckers need to rest for at least 3 minutes, so make apple pie shots during this time: vodka with a floater of apple cider and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Cheers! xoxo