It’s been a busy week. The pickings in the refrigerator got slimmer as the week progressed. The recipes for Apple-Brined Pork Chops and Potato, Bacon and Apple Hash were born of the fact that all that remained in my refrigerator were a small rib-in pork roast and a few potatoes and apples. Spying a bunch of fresh thyme on the counter, the wheels in this cook’s brain began to turn.
I’d been cooped up like a hen all day today. Then came the weekend’s usual barrage of errands. Off to the garage to pick up my son’s car, onto the mall to finally upgrade my phone. By the time I got home it would’ve been easy to cave on exercise, let alone making dinner. But the spring fever that comes with a 20 degree Celsius day in March stamped a tantrum in my brain. It was matched only by my dog’s insistent pitter-patter at my heels and a husband who needed to blow the week’s clinging web of work from his brain.
The pork got tossed in a brine and out the door we went. An hour’s walk and within a half hour of my return supper was on the table. I hope you’ll give these easy recipes a try sometime.
Apple-Brined Pork Chops
You’ll really want a cast iron or grill-proof skillet for this recipe – not too mention a grill.
2 lbs rib end pork loin roast – cut into 3 chops
3 Tablespoons kosher salt
1 cup boiling water
½ teaspoon sliced ginger
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups apple juice
3 fresh thyme sprigs
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper for the brine
Salt and pepper to season both sides of the chops
Place the pork chops in a Ziploc plastic bag.
Add the salt to a cup of boiling water in a bowl and stir until it dissolves.
Add the ginger and sugar and stir again.
Add the apple juice, thyme and pepper to help cool the mixture and then pour it over the pork chops and seal the bag.
Leave the brine on the pork chops at room temperature for one hour.
Go for a walk – seriously – its easy from here on in…when you get back…
Remove the chops from the brine, rinse and pat them dry with a paper towel.
Coat them with olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper.
Heat one side of your grill to high with a cast iron pan on it and leave it there for about 5 minutes to get good and hot. A drop of water should sputter and disappear instantly when its hot enough.
Place the chops in the pan and allow room between each so the chops can caramelize and not sweat and begin to boil in their own juices.
Cook 5 minutes (still on high) until the first side is golden brown and lifts easily (caramelized), turn and repeat for the other side another 5 minutes.
Pull the pan to the non-heated side of the grill, keep the original burner on high and allow the chops to bake on the non-heated side for another 10 – 15 minutes – depending on thickness – and remove when they are 140°F when tested with a meat thermometer.
Remove from heat and tent with foil until ready to eat.
Drizzle the chops with the juices from the pan once you’ve plated them.
Enjoy with potato, bacon and apple hash, a bright green vegetable and a brilliant Riesling like Dragonstone by Leitz vineyards in the Rheingau of Germany.
Potato, Bacon and Apple Hash
3 potatoes, halved and boiled with skin on, then
6 oz of bacon, cut in thin cross strips
3 shallots, cut in lengthwise strips
3 gala apples, peelings on, cut in slices and core discarded
1 clove of minced garlic
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil the potatoes and begin frying the bacon on low until it starts to turn brown.
Add the shallots and cook a few minutes until they turn translucent.
Stir in the apples and garlic and strip the thyme leaves from their branches into the mix.
Drain the potatoes, cut them in quarters and then again into bite-size wedges and add them to the hash.
Add the leaves from the thyme sprigs and season with salt and pepper before serving with the pork.
If there is any leftover, reheat it the next morning, make a nest for an egg or two and enjoy it again as a farmers’ omelette. Yum.