Brined Pork Chops with Gremolata

Pork chops, brined overnight in a salt sugar solution, seared and served with parsley lemon garlic gremolata

Brine adapted from Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook by Alice Waters and The Zuni Cafe Cookbook by Judy Rodgers.

  • Prep time: 1 day
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2 to 4, depending on how many chops.

Ingredients

  • 2 to 4 thick-cut pork chops, preferably bone-in, about 10 ounces each
  • Olive oil

Brine:

  • 5 cups water
  • 6 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 Tbsp Kosher salt
  • 3 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 4 strips of lemon peel

Gremolata:

  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic

Method

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1 A day (or two) ahead, prepare the brine. Place one cup of water in a small saucepan and add the roughly crumbled bay leaves, coriander seeds, thyme, and lemon peel. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat. Let sit for a few minutes. Then add the remaining 4 cups of water. Stir in the sugar and salt until they are dissolved and the water is no longer cloudy. Place the chops in a freezer bag or marinade bag in a bowl and pour the brine into the bag. Seal and refrigerate for 1 to 2 days (1 day for thin chops, 1 to 2 days for thick).

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2 A half hour (for thin chops) or an hour (for thick chops) before cooking, remove the pork chops from the brine and rinse off with cold water. Pat dry. To prevent the chops from buckling while they cook, score the outside rim of fat a couple of places, cutting just to the edge of the meat.

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3 Coat the bottom of a large skillet with oil. Heat on medium to medium high. Pat dry the chops again and coat with a little oil. When the pan is hot, place the chops in the pan. Cook until browned on one side, then flip over and brown the other side. Once browned, flip over again and lower the heat, continue to cook until done (internal temperature reads 145°F, or use the finger test to check the doneness of meat if you don't have an instant read thermometer). Note that because of the sugar in the brine, the chops may brown more quickly than you expect. You may need to move them in the pan a bit to keep them from getting too dark.

4 When done, remove the chops from the pan, tent with foil and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes while you make the gremolata.

5 Make the gremolata by combining minced parsley, grated fresh lemon zest, and minced garlic in a small bowl. Sprinkle on the pork chops to serve.

Great with mashed parsnips and potatoes.

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Comments

  1. Paul

    Elise, do you find the sugar helps make the chops juicier, or just a little sweeter? Do you use sugar in your brines for other meats, like turkey, as well?

    • Elise

      Hi Paul, great question. I’m not exactly sure of the chemical activity with the sugar; sugar is hygroscopic, meaning it attracts moisture, so perhaps it does play a role in keeping the chops juicier. It does however, make a difference in the flavor. It helps balance the saltiness and brings out more of the pork flavor in my opinion. I’ve seen it used in poultry brines, though not to the extent (2 to 1 ratio) that we using it here.

  2. Denise

    This chop is drool worthy. I have brined turkeys and chickens, but have yet to try it with pork chop. I really like serving gremolata with pork, the citrus is a great compliment. I wonder if I could use maple syrup as the sweetener instead of sugar?

    • Elise

      Hi Denise, I think maple syrup in place of the sugar would be great! If you try it, please let us know how it turns out!

  3. Sammy

    I think I’m gonna love this recipe. I have no cook-sense. How long did you cook the pork chops? How low do I ‘lower the heat’?

    Can’t wait to try this. I love your recipes.

    • Elise

      Hi Sammy, the cooking time really depends on the thickness of the pork chop and how hot your stovetop burner is. Several minutes each side.

  4. Lorelei

    I always brine my pork chops before cooking them, but it is not necessary to do it overnight. I brine mine about six hours and they come out great, even if I bake them.

  5. RD

    I love pork chops and am also a big proponent of brining pork and poultry. I will try this out this Saturday night. However, instead of cooking them entirely in the pan I think I will brown them in an oven-safe skillet or saute pan and then finish cooking them in the oven, i.e., pan roasting.

    These would probably go well with the mashed parsnips and potatoes recipe you just posted.

  6. Diane

    Elise, my family & I love your Mom’a Perfect Pork Chops so much that it is now the only way I prepare them. Could I use this brine before the rub, or do you think the flavors would fight or be too much?

  7. Oui, Chef

    Brining pork chops is an absolute requirement, it makes ALL the difference.

  8. ovenbird

    Do you think this would this work with a pork tenderloin? An interesting combo…sugar and salt.

  9. Marta@What should I eat for breakfast today

    I like a piece of nicely prepared meat. Not the biggest fan of pork, but if it’s good, I believe it’s always worth trying.

  10. Jim Price

    I’d like to try this with sous vide.

  11. Pam Green

    Hi Elise: your pork chop recipe reminded me that I haven’t made my chops braised with sauerkraut and cider for about a year. I was thinking about whether brining would help that recipe and surfing the internet when I stumbled on this one:

    http://www.weber.com/recipes/pork/cider-brined-pork-chops-with-apple-sauerkraut

  12. Amanda

    Hello Elise,

    I am making another one of your pork chop recipes the -Pork Chops with Dijon Sauce. I would like to use the sugar/salt brine from this recipe but wonder if I should leave out the lemon, thyme, coriander and brine only with the sugar/salt combo? What do you think?

    • Elise

      Hi Amanda, sure you could do that. Or include an aromatic that would go with whatever recipe you are making.