Brines work by breaking down some of the muscle tissue and helping the meat to draw in moisture. On large cuts like Faith's corned beef
, this process can take several hours or days. But on small cuts, even a short brine while you prepare the rest of the meal will improve the flavor and tenderness of the meat! Take a look...In the past few decades, pork has become a progressively more lean and even tender loin cuts can end up tasting dry and flavorless. This makes pork a particularly good candidate for brining!
We use a basic brine solution of 1/4 cup (4 Tablespoons) salt to 1 quart (4 cups) of water. Lay the pork chops (or other thin cut) in a single layer in a shallow dish and then pour the brine over top. Let this sit for anywhere from 1/2 hour to 2 hours before cooking.
If we're feeling fancy, we like to throw other aromatics into the brine solution to infuse more flavor. We like any combination of lemon grass, star anise, black pepper corn, orange peels, and juniper berries with pork chops. If you have time, heating the brine solution and then letting it cool before pouring it over the meat helps to get more flavor from the spices.
Give it a try!
Related: Food Science: How Does Brining Work?
(Image: Flickr member Foodista licensed under Creative Commons)