Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pickle Themed Dinner: Pork Chops Brined in Pickle Juice and...?

I love pickles.  Really love them.  They were pretty much the only vegetable I would eat until I was, ohhhh, 23?  My mom sometimes brings me these delicious pickles from the Pop-up General Store in Oakland.  They are classic dills made by Studebaker Pickles.  They are amazing.  

Yes, I love pickles, and it breaks my heart every time I finish a jar and I have to pour the juice down the drain.  I mean, yes, sometimes I'll take a spoonful of it before sending it down the drain, but mostly it gets wasted.  So imagine my joy when I saw a twitter post with a link to A Gazillion Ways to Use Leftover Pickle Juice.  Why I never thought of using the juice is beyond me, but there it was, a bunch of ways to use it!

All of the options on the list sound pretty great, but the one that really jumped out at me was to use it as a brine for pork.  I happen to have a freezer-full of pork and love brined pork chops.  Done and done.

I took chops out of the freezer last night to defrost, and ever since I have been thinking of what to make alongside the brined chops.  By the time I got home, I had fully committed to a pickle themed dinner.  But what does that exactly mean?  Pickles aren't exactly a prime ingredient in anything.  Then I thought, FRIED PICKLES!  I love fried pickles, and after looking up a couple of recipes, decided they are easy enough to make.   I don't consider two items a themed dinner, but another food item seemed unnecessary, so a pickle martini will round out the meal.

Pork Chops Brined in Pickle Juice
Pork chops
Pickle juice
Freshly ground black pepper

Brine the pork chops in the pickle juice for some amount of time.  Mine got brined for 2 hours.  I flipped them after one hour.

Take the chops out of the brine and pat dry.  Grind some black pepper onto each side.

Cook the pork chops.  I grilled them on my trusty cast iron stovetop grill.  Surprised?

Fried Pickles
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
Optional: dash of hot sauce (I used Crystal)

1 cup plain cornmeal
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Some pickles, spears or chips work best, cold and dried with a paper towel.

I didn't use the Studebaker pickles because it seemed wrong to fry them.  They are SO good on their own.  (I made 5 pickle spears of Whole Foods brand.  Had I made more spears, I would have needed more cornmeal coating, but I had plenty of egg wash.)

1.  Make an egg wash:  Whisk egg and milk (and dash of hot sauce if you like things spicy) together for about 30 seconds using a fork. Set aside.

2.  Make cornmeal coating: Mix remaining ingredients together and set aside.  By the way, you can put pretty much anything you want with the cornmeal for the coating.  I used whatever spices I had and sounded good.  

3.  Coat each pickle with egg wash.

4.  Coat each pickle with cornmeal coating.

5.  Repeat steps three and four to double-coat your pickles. The breading will adhere better if you give it a double dunk.

6.  Place each battered pickle on a cookie sheet that is lined with wax or parchment paper and freeze for at least 30 minutes. If you neglect to freeze your pickles, the pickle batter will not adhere and you'll end up with a naked pickle and a bunch of batter floating in the oil.

7.  Heat cooking oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  I used peanut oil because it's the only non-olive oil I have in the house right now.

8.  Carefully drop each frozen pickle into the preheated oil. Stir occasionally and let cook until pickles float on the surface of the oil and turn golden brown. Generally, pickle slices take 2 to 3 minutes; spears take 3 to 4 minutes; and whole pickles take 6 to 7 minutes.

9.  Remove pickles from oil and allow them to drain on paper towels.

10.  Transfer to serving plate and serve with your favorite dip!

Pickle Martini
2 parts gin
1 part pickle juice

Put in a shaker with ice, shake, and serve straight up with a pickle garnish.

I have already written way too much in this post, but I have one note.  The average person might feel a little pickled-out after this meal.  Not me!  After I finished, I had another pickle martini and ate one of the Studebaker pickles for dessert.

Bon appetit.


  1. I LOVE pickles! And I had no idea you could use the brine for ANYTHING. Genius!

    Did the pork chops taste... pickly?

  2. O.M.Gahhhhhh. I am obsessed with pickles. I ate an entire jar in 24 hours 3 days ago. The Mister made me take a pregnancy test. It was negative. My love for pickles, however is positive. I even got really drunk the other night and went to burger joint on Market called Super Duper and they have all you can eat pickles. I yelled at everyone in the place that I should be in a pickle eating contest. No one argued. This is also SF, so probably more than 8 people yell that a day. How did the food turn out? I am def going to make that pickle martini...and then call Snookie and taunt her with it, one guido to another.



    pdots. I found you through one of the bestest humans ever, Santina. I like your blog a lot.

  3. S - The pork chops didn't taste very pickly. A little, but more just deliciously salty.

    Angie - Next time I am in SF, I am going to that burger joint to eat pickles. Mmmm.

    The food was mostly wonderful. The fried pickles weren't as good as fried pickles I have had elsewhere, but frying is not my forte.

    I actually think the best part of the meal was the pickle martini. I am going to start making those on a regular basis.

    I'm glad you found my blog, and Santina is excellent, isn't she?