Anybody else out there terrified of cooking pork?
I’m good with ground pork and I work just fine with pork shoulder, but (HA!) throw a chop at me and I’ll duck for cover. Oh, and not like it needs to be said, but I’ll totally say it anyways… I’m completely ok with cooking bacon. That I can most definitely handle.
I’ve read a million articles and posts on how not to ruin pork chops, but they haven’t seemed to help much. They always come out dry and bland. Then, I just don’t want to eat them and every time I see them at the butcher I turn my nose up and curse at those stuck up little pieces of pork. How dare they not turn out good!
This is what happened every single time, that is, until I tried brining them. Then, out of nowhere, they turned out incredible! So juicy and tender and juicy (and tender… did I already say that?). I guess I should have listened to those articles a while back because hey were onto something. Brining these pork chops was so much easier and so much less intimidating than my complicated brain made it out to be. No surprise there though. I mayyyyy have a small tendency to over-complicate things… somewhere, I can feel CJ throwing his head back in a fit of sarcastic laughter. I guess it’s more like a very, very large tendency to over-complicate things. What can I say, I’m Italian ( not really, not even close. Is this something that Italian’s even do?) You know what’s not very complicated? These pork chops. Eating them is even less complicated. Get to it!
Garlic Brined Pork Chops w/ Pipián Verde
4 center cut pork loin chips (bone-in)
2 ½ tbsp kosher salt
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 lb tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 serrano pepper
½ onion, peeled and roughly chopped
½ cup cilantro, loosely packed
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
½ chicken stock (can use water)
1 tsp cumin
In a large baking dish, mix one cup boiling water with the 2 ½ tbsp kosher salt, stirring until dissolved. Stir in two more cups of cold/room temperature water. Once all the water is cool, add the pork chops and garlic cloves to the baking dish. Make sure that the pork chops are completely covered! If you need more water, add 1 cup of water and 1 tbsp of salt. Cover and place in the fridge for at least 3o minutes, but up to 4 hours.
Remove brined chops from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 375. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pumpkin seeds to the pan, stirring, and toast for about 5 minutes, until the seeds begin to pop and turn a nice toasty brown color. Remove from heat. Place the skillet in the oven to preheat.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add the tomatillos, serrano, and onion. Boil for 10 minutes and then remove pot from heat. To a blender (or food processor), add the pumpkin seeds, strained tomatillos, serrano, and onion, the cilantro, cumin, and the stock. Blend until smooth, adding salt and pepper to taste.
Remove the chops from the brine, rinse, and pat dry. Place the skillet on the stove over high heat. *You may want to turn on a fan at this point* Rub ghee (or your cooking oil of choice) on each side of the chops, sprinkle with fresh pepper, and sear in the pan for three minutes. Flip the chops, sear an additional two minutes, and then place the entire skillet into the oven. Bake for 6-10 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 145.
Remove chops from oven and transfer to a plate, tent loosely with foil for 5 minutes. After they have rested serve with the pipián verde sauce!