Pork Brining

In 1976 Jane Grigson’s now classic book, The Art of Making Sausages, Pâtés, and Other Charcuterie, was published. Reading it then, I learned that if you brine pork for a day before cooking it, you are guaranteed moist and flavorful meat, as long as you don’t overcook it. Remember, pork can be very slightly beige-pink and still be safe in terms of trichinosis, the trichinae being killed when the meat’s internal temperature reaches 137 degrees.

The following method of brining allows us to consistently produce a perfect, thick double pork (or veal) chop that is flavorful, tender, and full of juices. The only meat not to use this method with is lamb, which benefits from dry brining only.

In this procedure, the pork is cooked enough initially to allow chops or medallions (boneless sections cut across the loin) to be cut and marinated. It is then reheated to finish the cooking process, with this second cooking taking less than half the time it would take to cook the meat from a raw state. This short cooking period means that the meat does not seize up and get tough, which would necessitate a long resting period.

Read more

Ingredients

  • 1 pork loin section with at least 8 ribs, chine bone removed
  • 4 quarts wet brine
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon allspice berries
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

Method

Trim the loin so that there is only ¼-inch of fat on top. Mix the brine, bay leaves, allspice, and thyme. Put the loin in a pan just large enough to hold it and the liquid, and pour the brine over the pork to cover. Marinate overnight or at least 8 hours in the refrigerator.

When the pork is fully brined, remove it from the pan and wipe it dry. Season with the pepper.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Heat a sauté pan over high heat and sear the loin, browning it on all sides, about 5 minutes. Put the loin in a roasting pan just large enough to hold it and cook for 30 minutes. Remove the loin and let sit for 45 minutes.

At this point the loin is ready to be cut into portions, and for a second marination for an hour with fresh herbs or spices to develop and highlight the flavors in the meat. Then it is ready to finish the cooking.

,