BRINED PORK CHOPS WITH BLUEBERRY GASTRIQUE
My first choice was to smoke these giant, thick-cut, bone-in pork chops, but with temps exceeding 100 degrees I decided to grill them instead. But first I brined them for about 8 hours to ensure a tender, very juicy end result. It's easy to over-cook, and therefore, dry out pork, but brining guarantees a perfectly moist chop. Brining is easy. I wanted to keep my brine very simple, but you can add herbs, garlic, onion, maple syrup in place of sugar or any other similar ingredients. The key is equal parts sugar and salt. Here are the basic brine ingredients:
1/4 cup Kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups water
2 cups ice cubes
In a large saucepan combine salt, sugar and 2 cups water. Stir over medium heat until sugar and salt dissolve. Remove from heat and cool. If you are in a hurry, pop it into the fridge to cool down faster. Place the pork chops in a large zip-lock bag. Add the cooled brine plus 2 cups of ice cubes. Place the bagged chops in a 9x13" pan and put back into the fridge for at least 8 hours. Turn the bag every half or so to ensure that the chops get brined evenly. Remove chops from brine. Rinse. Pat dry. Brush both sides of chops with olive oil. Since I wasn't smoking the chops I still wanted a smoky flavor so made a dry rub and generously rubbed both sides of the pork with the rub.
3 Tbsp. smoky paprika
1 tsp. each: garlic powder, onion powder, ground cumin and ground dry mustard
1 tsp. coarsely ground pepper
1/2 tsp. ground chipotle pepper
After you have rubbed the chops let them sit on the counter for 1/2 hour before grilling. Grill chops about 5 minutes per side. Internal temp should read 145 degrees. Let them stand for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
Unfortunately I didn't get a photo of the served meal, but the Blueberry Gastrique adds a beautiful elegance to the meal...and enhances the rich, smokiness of these pork chops.
A gastrique is a French sauce that is made by combining sweet and sour, usually sugar and vinegar. Here is what I put together.
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup blueberries
1 Tbsp. wild blueberry preserves
Bring all ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until desired thickness. You don't want it to be liquid, but conversely you do not want a thick, goopy sauce either. I prefer a pourable liquid that can be spread on the plate with the back of a spoon making a swoosh. Either strain through a fine-mesh strainer pushing the gastrique through the strainer with the back of a spoon or serve chunky. I prefer a smooth, silken texture so strain it.
THAT'S IT FOR TODAY!
FROM MY KITCHEN TO YOURS...