Brined Pork Chops With Gremolata

Pork chops, brined overnight in a salt sugar solution, turn out nice and juicy when seared. Serve with parsley lemon garlic gremolata.

Brined Pork Chops with Gremolata
Elise Bauer

If you're like me, it's easy to get frazzled in the day to day hustle and bustle of every day life.

Planning? Who has time to plan?

Yet we know deep inside that the best things in life require at least a little bit of planning. Case in point—juicy, succulent, flavorful pork chops.

Pork easily gets dried out in cooking. The best way to ensure that it doesn't, is to brine it ahead of time, plumping it up with moisture, so that when cooking releases moisture, some remains in the pork.

Brined Pork Chops with Gremolata
Elise Bauer

My friend Kathi Riley recently shared with me a favorite pork brine, which she learned cooking with Chef Judy Rodgers at San Francisco's Zuni Cafe, and before then at Chez Panisse.

The secret to this brine is its 2 to 1 ratio of sugar to salt. Yes, twice as much sugar as salt. It works! This brine produced the best pork chop I've ever eaten.

To the base brine I added strips of lemon peel, to complement the lemon in the gremolata garnish of the pork chop, as well as crushed coriander seeds and thyme.

Feel free to experiment! Juniper berries would work well if serving the pork with sauerkraut.

Brined Pork Chops With Gremolata

Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Servings 2 to 4 servings

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


For the chops:

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

  • Extra virgin olive oil

For the brine:

  • 5 cups water

  • 6 tablespoons sugar

  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt

  • 3 bay leaves, crumbled

  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, lightly crushed

  • 1 sprig thyme

  • 4 strips lemon peel

For the gremolata:

  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves

  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh lemon zest

  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic


  1. Brine the pork chops a day or two ahead:

    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).

    Elise Bauer
  2. Remove chops from brine:

    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.

    Elise Bauer
  3. Score the outside rim of fat:

    To prevent the chops from buckling while they cook, score the fat in a couple of places, cutting just to the edge of the meat.

    Elise Bauer
  4. Sear the chops:

    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.

    Elise Bauer
    Elise Bauer
  5. Lower the heat and cook:

    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.

  6. Tent with foil and let chops rest:

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

  7. 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.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
192 Calories
8g Fat
21g Carbs
10g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2 to 4
Amount per serving
Calories 192
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 10%
Saturated Fat 2g 9%
Cholesterol 33mg 11%
Sodium 2867mg 125%
Total Carbohydrate 21g 8%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 19g
Protein 10g
Vitamin C 13mg 65%
Calcium 39mg 3%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 169mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.