Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Corsican brined pork chops

Does anyone else find it funny that almost every one of my posts have started with a picture of raw meat?  I think that I get really excited about taking pictures when I start cooking a meal, but as I get into the cooking, I pay more attention to the food than my camera, so I end up with before and after pics.  Ah well. 

I made this dish for the first time last winter for my most recent ex-boyfriend (while we were still together), and he declared it the best meal he had ever had cooked for him.  It is a very tasty dish. The brine seasons the chops perfectly, and the rich, slightly sweet, tomato-based sauce complements the saltiness of the pork.  I love the sauce, and the last time I made the dish, there was a lot left over.  Remembering this, I this time decided to put that extra sauce to use.  I boiled about a third pound of fusilli to al dente, added a handful of cherry tomatoes to the sauce left in the dutch oven after serving the pork chops to the plate, and tossed the pasta in the resulting sauce.  You couldn't ask for an easier side, and it doesn't hurt that it's delicious.

1.  In a large stainless steel bowl or plastic container, combine 1/4 c. sea salt with 3 Tbsp sugar and 1 c. hot water; stir until dissolved.  Add 3 c. cold water1 tsp dried thyme1 tsp crushed juniper berries1/2 tsp cracked coriander seeds1/2 tsp cracked peppercorns1/4 tsp dried sage, and 2 bay leaves, crumbled.  Put 4 center cut pork rib chops, cut 1 1/4" thick in the brine, cover, and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours, turning them occasionally.

2.  Drain the pork chops.  Pick any whole spices off the meat and discard.  Pat the chops dry with paper towels.

3.  Heat 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil in a large, deep nonstick or black cast-iron skillet (Erin's note: I use my dutch oven) until it shimmers.  Add the pork chops and cook over high heat, turning once, until browned, about 6 minutes.  Transfer the chops to a plate and season with salt and pepper.

4.  Pour off the fat from the skillet.  Add 1 c. chicken broth and 2 Tbsp dry white wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Boil until the liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes.  Add 1 c. tomato sauce, 1/4 c. orange juice, and 1 garlic clove, smashed and simmer for 5 minutes.

5.  Return the pork chops to the skillet, turn to coat with the sauce, and bring to a boil.  Cover tightly, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the pork is tender and fully cooked through, about 10 minutes.  Transfer the chops to a platter, cover, and keep warm.

6.  Add 8 cracked green olives, pitted, rinsed, and coarsely chopped to the sauce and boil over high heat until the liquid is reduced to about 1 cup.  Stir in 2 tsp finely slivered fresh basil, 2 tsp finely slivered fresh mint, and 2 tsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley and pour the sauce over the chops.

Bon appetit. 

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