Maybe it doesn’t look like it from here, but we’ve been cooking. We’ve made beet burgers, turkey meatballs, grilled bison steaks, quiche, and a plum galette I’d like to share with you soon. Pâte brisée is my new obsession and, as I half-jokingly told Danny, my homeboy. The dough comes together really quickly in a stand mixer; now I’ve got pie dough in the freezer and I feel more prepared than I’m accustomed to. I made pan-roasted chicken thighs with the crispiest chicken skin, seasoned with an herb salt. The ice cream maker finally showed up at my door and we plan on churning this weekend.
I’ll quit keeping these things to myself and start sharing with you. Let’s start with this brown butter pork chop.
The key moves for this pork chop are the brine and the basting. A salt and sugar brine with garlic and herbs makes a more flavorful, juicy chop. Basting the pork chop in brown butter infused with garlic and herbs intensifies the flavors and makes this the best pork chop I’ve ever had.
Brown butter is another thing I’m into lately. Whether it’s cookies or cake, I’m letting butter melt until it foams, bubbles, cracks and pops before finally quieting down and turns into a rich brown color, offering up a nutty fragrance. Here, we baste it repeatedly over the pork chop and it infuses the flavor into every inch and crevice of the chop.
It’s good stuff. We served it once with a plum chutney, and you should feel free to play around with different kinds. In the summer, I bet cherries would be great. But this pork chop stands fine alone. I didn’t even know I liked pork chops until I met this one. Now, it’s in the rotation.
Can’t find juniper berries for the brine? I’m thinking you could swap in a splash of a juniper-heavy gin or a couple strong bay leaves to round out the flavors. See you soon. We’ll be in the kitchen.
brown butter pork chops
The brine and the basting make this pork chop. The flavor is bold and this is the best pork chop I’ve ever had. We topped it off with a plum chutney once, which was good, but the chop stands alone.
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon juniper berries
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 head of garlic, halved crosswise, plus 2 unpeeled cloves
2 large sprigs thyme or rosemary
two 1-inch thick bone-in pork chops (about 1 1/4 pounds)
2 tablespoons grapeseed or vegetable oil (good here for its high smoking point)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
To make the brine, bring 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the salt, sugar, juniper berries, peppercorns, halved head of garlic, and 1 thyme sprig; stir to dissolve salt and sugar. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and 5 cups ice cubes. Stir until the ice cools down the brine. Add the pork chops, cover, and chill for at least 8 hours and up to 12.
Heat oven to 450°F. Take the pork chops out of the brine and pat dry. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a cast-iron skillet (we heated up two skillets to make both chops at the same time or you can cook one after the other). Place chop in the center of the skillet and cook until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Flip the pork chop onto the other side and cook until it is starting to brown, about another 2 minutes. Keep turning the chip every 2 minutes until both sides turn a deep golden brown color, 10 to 12 minutes total.
Take the skillet and place it in the center of the oven. Roast the pork chop until an instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into the center of the chop registers 135°F, about 5 minutes, flipping once about halfway. Keep in mind the pork chop will keep cooking as you baste it and then let it rest.
Carefully drain the fat from the skillet and place it back on the stove top with the pork chop over medium heat. Throw the butter into the skillet along with 2 unpeeled garlic cloves and 1 thyme sprig. Cook until butter becomes foamy and fragrant. Tip the skillet to the side and use a large spoon to baste the chop repeatedly with the butter until it is brown and smells nutty, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the pork chop to a cutting board or plate to rest for about 5 minutes. Serve.
Serves 2. Adapted from Bon Appetit.