Corsican Brined Pork Chops

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    4

Appears in

The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen

By Paula Wolfert

Published 2003

  • About

The French island of Corsica is famous for its strongly flavored herbs, products of a hot sun, dry earth, and fresh sea air. Herbs play a major role in this Corsican-inspired dish of deeply caramelized pork chops. The recipe is based on my vivid memory of a sauté of pork that had been rubbed with herbs, smothered in a rich tomato sauce, and dotted with green olives, served as a “special” at a tiny Corsican restaurant in Paris, a few doors down from the Bohemian hotel where I stayed in my youth. The restaurant, Aux Deux Marches, on Rue Gît-le-Coeur, was part eatery, part grocery store, and, in true Corsican style, filled with pictures and busts of Napoleon Bonaparte. Dolores, the waitress, remarking on the dried shrubby Corsican herbs that gave the pork its delicious flavor, told me: “These herbs penetrate one's very being! I didn't say that—Napoleon did.”

In my recipes, I employ thyme, bay leaf, and sage in a novel way, adding them to a salty brine so their flavors infuse the dense lean meat prior to cooking. Brining is a great way to ensure that your pork chops stay moist and succulent.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon crushed juniper berries
  • ½ teaspoon cracked coriander seeds
  • ½ teaspoon cracked peppercorns
  • ¼ teaspoon dried sage
  • 2 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 4 center cut pork rib chops, cut 1¼ inches thick
  • tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine 1 cup tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 8 cracked green olives, pitted, rinsed, and coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons finely slivered fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons finely slivered fresh mint
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Method

  1. In a large stainless steel bowl or plastic container, combine the salt with the sugar and 1 cup hot water; stir until dissolved. Add 3 cups cold water, the thyme, juniper berries, coriander seeds, peppercorns, sage, and bay leaves. Put the chops in the brine, cover, and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours, turning them occasionally.
  2. Drain the pork chops. Pick any whole spices off the meat and discard. Pat the chops dry with paper towels.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large, deep nonstick or black cast-iron skillet until it shimmers. Add the pork chops and cook over high heat, turning once, until browned, about 6 minutes. Transfer the chops to a plate and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Pour off the fat from the skillet. Add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Boil until the liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, orange juice, and garlic and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Return the pork chops to the skillet, turn to coat with the sauce, and bring to a boil. Cover tighdy reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the pork is tender and fully cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chops to a platter, cover, and keep warm.
  6. Add the olives to the sauce and boil over high heat until the liquid is reduced to about 1 cup. Stir in the basil, mint, and parsley and pour the sauce over the chops.