The challenge of cooking poultry or pork is that white meats tend to dry out while cooking. Brining, or salting, is a way of increasing the moisture-holding capacity of meat resulting in a more moist product when cooked. Kosher salt and table salt (without iodine) are the most common salts used in brining. Sea salt can be used, but it tends to be quite expensive. Brine is to marinate as sauté is to braise.
4 1 1/2-inch rib pork chops
2 quarts water
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup mustard seeds
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsps pickling spices
6 cloves garlic, smashed with side of a large knife
4-6 Tbsps olive oil
Bring water to a boil with salt, mustard seeds, sugar, pickling spices and garlic. Simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
After brine has cooled to room temperature, transfer to zip lock bags and add chops. Refrigerate 24 hours, turning bags occasionally so brine is well incorporated.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Remove chops from brine and pat dry. Discard.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking.
Brown the chops in batches, without crowding, turning once, 3 minutes on each side.
Transfer the chops to a roasting pan and roast in middle of oven until a meat thermometer inserted horizontally into meat (do not touch bone) registers 155 degrees F, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Plate the chops and top with sauce below.
While chops are roasting in the oven, prepare the apple-cinnamon sauce.
3 Tbsps brown sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 stick unsalted butter
2 tart (Granny Smith) apples, peeled, cored and sliced
In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, salt and pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Add butter to skillet, and stir in brown sugar mixture and apples. Cover and cook over medium heat until apples are just tender, about 5 minutes.
Remove apples with a slotted spoon and arrange on top of chops. Keep warm in the preheated oven.
Continue cooking sauce, uncovered, until thickened slightly. Spoon the sauce over apples and chops. Serve on smashed potatoes with oven-roasted green beans.
Capt. John Wampler has worked on yachts big and small for more than 25 years. He’s created a repertoire of quick, tasty meals for crew to prepare for themselves to give the chef a break. Contact him through www.yachtaide.com. Comments on this column are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.