When it comes to making succulent, flavorful meat, my pals Pete & Sarah Servold—the duo behind the upcoming book “Paleo by Season” and the successful business Pete’s Paleo—know how to do it right. I’ve had the good fortune to dine with them several times, and delicious meat is always on the menu. I jumped at the chance to share this recipe with you because I know you’ll love it.
Brining—letting meat marinate in a liquid of salt water and spices—is a really simple way to impart flavor and keep the meat juicy. There’s nothing worse than a dry pork chop, right?! In “Paleo by Season,” Pete dishes up tons of chef techniques and ways to create flavor that even the novice can learn from. Be sure to pre-order a copy of their new book—out in stores on July 8—and definitely make these chops!
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- 2 cups (473 mL) water
- 2 tbsp (36 g) salt
- 1 tbsp (6 g) whole black peppercorns
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) apple cider vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1/2 sprig (7 g) rosemary, or any other fresh herb
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) honey*, optional
- 4 cups (946 mL) ice
- 2 (1-inch/2.5-cm thick) pork chops
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) avocado oil
A trick to speed up brine prep time is to use as little hot water as possible—just enough to dissolve the salt and sweetener—and then add ice for the remaining water content called for in the recipe. This allows you to add the meat immediately instead of waiting hours for the brine to cool. The total brine volume should be 1 cup of brine for every 8 ounces of pork chops.
In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring all ingredients for the brine, except the ice, to a rapid boil and continue to boil for 7 minutes.
Pour the hot brine mixture into a large heatproof bowl and add the ice. Submerge the pork chops in the brine, place in the refrigerator, and allow to brine for 6 to 12 hours.
Remove the pork chops from the brine, pat completely dry with paper towels, and discard the brining liquid.
Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C). Have a sheet pan ready for the chops.
Heat a 12-inch (31-centimeter) cast iron frying pan over high heat and, once the pan is hot, add the avocado oil. Right when the oil starts to smoke, add the pork chops.
Start by holding the chops upright with tongs so that the fat cap is facing down in the pan. Once the fat is rendered and crispy, roll over to the first side. Let sear for 3 minutes, then flip over to other side. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until good and golden-brown, then place the chops on a sheet pan. Finish in the oven for no more than 6 minutes for medium doneness. If you like pork cooked all the way through, bake the chops for a total of 9 to 12 minutes. Let them rest for 5 minutes once they’re removed from oven before slicing or serving. Serve with Cauliflower Dumplings (page 164) or Pumpkin Dumplings (page 165).