Thursday, April 12, 2012

brined pork chops, Twenty, and our new family member (a Jess post)

One of my favorite chefs is Michael Ruhlman. He is a culinary genius and has penned several books attesting to such. And he is a Cleveland guy which I have to admit wins him LOTS of points in my book. I got his most recent cookbook, Twenty, for Christmas and I am smitten. Instead of being lots of random recipes, he writes about twenty specific techniques and gives recipe examples to showcase each one.

I decided I was going to make the pan fried pork chops in lemon caper sauce (in the "fry" chapter). It sounded incredible. The first suggested step, however, was brining the pork chops (in the "salt" chapter) to infuse them with flavor before cooking. I made the brine last night (which smelled INCREDIBLE, by the way) and then went on to make the pork chops today. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) we got a call in the middle of my cooking dinner-- our delivery would be here shortly!

isn't she lovely? *swoon*
Meet Delilah, my brand new convection oven and my second child. She will be my new kitchen partner in crime, replacing the grody old white monstrosity I suffered with for 8 months.

Anyway, her arrival cut my cooking time short. Instead of making pan fried pork chops in lemon caper sauce, I made pan fried pork chops. With applesauce. But let me tell you- that brine did something absolutely AMAZING to the meat. It was more flavorful than any pork chop I have ever made. EVER. Here is my adaptation of Ruhlman's genius:

For the Brine--
3 3/4 c water
1 1/2 T kosher salt
1 large shallot, sliced
10 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with the flat side of a knife
1 lemon, halved
1 T dried sage
2 bay leaves
1 T black peppercorns, cracked in a mortar & pestle
2-4 boneless pork chops

Combine the water, salt, shallot, garlic, lemon and spices in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove brine from heat and allow to come to room temperature. Refrigerate brine until cold. Put pork chops in brine and refrigerate 6-8 hours. One hour before cooking, remove the chops, discarding the brine, and pat dry. Let the chops sit for an hour or until room temperature.

For the Pan fried Chops--
2-4 previously brined chops
salt & pepper
1 c flour
1 egg + 2 T water beaten together
1 1/2 c panko bread crumbs
oil for frying (I used a canola/ olive/ grapeseed oil blend)

Sprinkle the room temperature chops with salt and pepper. Set the flour, egg mixture, and panko out in 3 different bowls. Pour approximately 1/4" oil into a large frying pan and heat over medium until shimmering. Dredge each chop in flour followed by egg followed by panko. Fry breaded pork chops approximately 5 minutes on each side (less depending on thickness) or until cooked through.

Like I said, these were by FAR the best chops ever. And I didn't even get to the lemon caper sauce! I will try that next time fore sure. In the meantime, if you are looking for me, I will be canoodling with Delilah...

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