Lemon and Herb-Brined Pork Chops

Now that we’ve covered the basics of brining, let’s get into a recipe that puts some of that information to work.  We’ll start off with a brine that uses both salt and honey, and also a bit of dry white wine and lemon zest to go with the blend of spices.  After brining, we’ll give it a wet rub of more lemon, a little more honey, and some fresh thyme.  Then we’ll finish them on the grill and serve with Monday’s ginger carrots and turnips.

For the brine, Gather Up:

  • 1-1/2 quarts water
  • 1/4 cup sea salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup Pinot Grigio (or other dry white wine)
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp coarse black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seed
  • 1 tsp whole mustard seed
  • zest of one lemon
  • 6 to 8 bone-in pork chops, about 4 lbs total

For the rub, Gather Up:

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2-1/2 to 3 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
  • zest of one lemon

When you’re going to go through the effort and time to brine something, you may as well make enough for leftovers (or to feed a large group)…so we’ve sized this recipe for six to eight pork chops.  As an alternative, you could go with a pork roast about 4 to 5 pounds instead, but obviously your grilling method and time will need to change a bit (as well as the brining time).  For the write-up, however, I’m going to stick with the chops.

In a medium sauce pan, combine the water, bay leaves, coriander, mustard, and pepper.  Heat to a boil, then remove from the heat and stir in the wine, honey, lemon, and salt.  Continue stirring until the honey and salt are fully dissolved.

Fill the sink with ice and water, then set the pan in the ice water to cool.  Alternately, you could put the brine in the fridge and allow to cool over night.  Just make sure not to add the brine to the meat until it is fully chilled.

Place the chops in a container large enough to contain them and the brine (we used one of our large stainless mixing bowls).  Once the brine is fully cooled, pour it over the top of the chops and seal the container.  Place in the fridge and let sit for 4 to 8 hours (you could go as long as 12 hours if needed).

After the chops are done brining, rinse them well under cold water and pat dry.  Place in a baking pan or platter that is large enough to hold them all.  Combine the rub ingredients in a small prep bowl and mix to fully incorporate.

Heat the grill to 400 degrees.  Use a spoon to spread the rub over all sides of the pork chops – working it in a little with the back of the spoon.  Let them set on the counter while the grill warms.

Grill them over indirect heat for about 20 minutes, turning once, or until the quick-read thermometer returns a temperature of 145 degres.  Transfer to a serving platter and cover to let rest for several minutes before serving.  Plate them up with some of the turnips and carrots, or some lemon-roasted broccolini, and dig in!