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I had a pork chop yesterday. I was dining alone, and I ceremoniously made myself a proper meal. I took a visit to the butcher who had all sorts of glossy selections piled high in the coolers, and I settled on a pork chop, bone-in. It was a good choice because it was well aged, and came from a good place and when it hit the pan I could tell from the sizzling fat that that good things were happening, that it was going to be a very fine pork chop. The thing is, that on the road to a good pork chop, it is very easy to take a wrong turn. Most pork chops should be brined, there are few pork chops on this earth that can get away with being delicious and not brined. Most turkeys should be brined too, but a whole turkey is too much for one woman on a solo afternoon.

Brining is an old-fashioned technique, that  involves soaking meat or poultry in a flavorful saltwater solution to enhance its moisture and taste. Despite the saltiness of the brine, the food doesn’t taste salty when it’s cooked, no, it is tender and succulent. The optimum soaking time for pork chops is 6-12 hours, but even a shorter time in the brine makes a flavorful difference. Unportioned pork gets refrigerated in brine for 24 hours.  But if it is already cut into chops, then the most time it needs in the brine is 5 hours. Even less will make a difference.

So I encourage you lovely solo diners, to take a stroll, or a jaunt, or a meander over to the butcher, and select something lovely for yourself, like a pork chop, or a large bird if you’re feeling hungry, and to try this little recipe here — trust me, you’re worth it.

“Brined Pork Chops (or Tenderloins) with Fried Apples”

Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 2 juicy chops

Ingredients

For Brine:

  • 8 cups water
  • ¼ box light brown sugar
  • ½ cup sugar granulated
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seed
  • 2 tablespoon crushed black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ cup white wine vinegar

To Cook:

  • 2 bone-in double-cut pork chops each 8 oz. and about 1 1/2 inches thick
  • olive oil for brushing
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 apple core and peel in-tact, sliced vertically about ½ inch thick
  • 2 sage leaves

Instructions

To brine:

  • Combine all brine ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and let cool. Add pork chops and submerge.

To cook:

  • Preheat an oven to 400°F.
  • Remove the chops from the brine, rinse well with cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Heat a grill pan or skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Brush the pork chops and apple slices on both sides with olive oil and season with pepper. Arrange the chops on the pan along with the sage leaves and apple slices and cook until dark grill marks appear underneath, 3 to 4 minutes per side.
  • Transfer the pan to the oven and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat, away from the bone, registers 140°F, 8 to 9 minutes, or until done to your liking, which for me, to be honest, is a little pink, and a little less time. Transfer the chops and apples to a warmed plate, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

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