I decided to brine some pork chops to serve over the Cheddar Grits I was planning to make. Brining lean meats like pork chops, chicken breasts, fish fillets, and shrimp is a great way to keep them moist and juicy after they’re cooked. Brining is really easy. It’s simply marinating your meat in a solution of salt and water before cooking. How long you brine your meat depends on what you’re brining. Small, thin pieces like fish fillets and shrimp should be brined for no more than 30 minutes or less. A large turkey can be brined overnight.
This chart is from one of my early issues of Fine Cooking magazine and gives you a good idea of the ratio of salt to water for each of the different meats and how long to brine them. Make enough brining liquid to completely submerge the amount of meat you plan to cook.
You can add different herbs like rosemary, thyme, garlic, etc., to your brine. You can also change the brining liquid to broth or apple cider. You can even add sugar. All these additions are flavor enhancers, but the main ingredient in a brine is salt. You can’t have a brine without it. Make sure that whatever you’re brining is completely submerged in the liquid and keep it in the refrigerator for the required period of time. After the required brining time, remove the meat and rinse it under cold water so that it won’t be too salty.
GRILLED BRINED PORK CHOPS
- 6 pork chops
- 1 quart apple cider
- ½ cup salt
- Mix apple cider and salt in a plastic baking bag or a ziploc bag.
- Add the pork chops and seal the bag partway, pressing to remove all the air you can before sealing the bag completely so the pork chops are fully submerged.
- Place bag in refrigerator and allow pork chops to sit in brine for 4 hours.
- After 4 hours, remove pork chops from brining liquid and discard the liquid.
- Rinse the pork chops under cool running water and pat them dry with paper towels.
- Grill or pan fry to desired doneness.
Note: I served the pork chops over a bed of polenta with roasted butternut squash.
EASY ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH
- 1 large butternut squash (about 3 lbs.)
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tbsp. garam masala
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Peel squash, remove seeds, and cut into 1-inch chunks.
- Place squash in a rimmed baking sheet.
- Drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with garam masala, salt and pepper.
- Toss all together well.
- Bake at 400°F for 25 to 30 minutes or until squash is tender when pierced with a fork.