This pan-roasted brined and marinated pork chops recipe is a recipe that defies the notion that pork chops are generally dry and bland. Using a simple brining technique combined with a spicy marinade, the bland pork chop is transformed into a succulent and zesty main course.
In my pursuit of only using fresh local ingredients here in Cambodia, we make use of myriad pork recipes in our kitchen. Our protein in Siem Reap comes in three flavours: chicken, seafood and pork.
However, recipes using a lean pork cut such as a trimmed pork chop tend to result in a dry piece of pork, so it takes a lot of persuading for me to get Lara to agree to a pork chop based dish.
I therefore tend to do most of my experimenting, as I have done with this particular dish, while Lara is away hosting her Cambodia culinary tours, brining the pork chops the night before she leaves.
Now that I’ve perfected this dish, she gets annoyed if I make it when she’s not here. It’s that good.
Pan-Roasted Brined and Marinated Pork Chops Recipe – How to Make the Juiciest Pork Chops Ever
Why Brine and Marinate Pork Chops?
In simple terms, brining the pork keeps the meat moist and marinating adds flavour. A basic brine is a salt-water solution, but I always add an equal amount of sugar to match the salt. That extra sweetness works well for the pork.
The marinade gives the meat extra flavour, particularly when using Asian-based spices, which are more bold than European flavours.
One of the reasons many pork cuts have long had a reputation for being dry was because of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s guidelines that pork had to be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C).
This resulted in dry, white coloured meat that yielded little flavour.
In 2011, the guidelines changed. An internal temperature of pork at 145°F (63°C) was deemed to be safe.
This 15°F change meant that pork could be cooked medium-rare to medium.
I like to cook pork chops to 55°C and then rest them. The final result will be around 61°C, however, in the recipe I’ve played by the rules.
Tips to Cooking Pan-Roasted Brined and Marinated Pork Chops
I like to use chops that are thicker than 3 cm or roughly 1 inch thick as you have more chance of getting a good sear and not overcooking the chops.
If your chops are less than 3 cm or 1 inch thick you might not need to finish the cooking in the oven and just baste the chops in the pan.
Use an instant-read thermometer to check. If the chops are not up to 50°C in the pan before the basting stage, place them in an oven at 200°C for around 5 mins.
But use a thermometer to check, as you don’t want to go over 57°C before resting.
One of the tips I’ve picked up over the last couple of years for making char siu pork is to use a meat tenderiser, or ‘tenderizer’ as they say in the USA. This is not the meat tenderiser that is like a hammer to thin out and tenderise fillets, like say for pork tonkatsu, but one that leaves small incisions in the meat to allow the flavour to more quickly penetrate the meat, than say a four-hour marinade.
Note that just like our eternally-popular Cote de Boeuf recipe, the leftovers almost make buying bigger (or better, thicker) cuts worthwhile. I promise that a sandwich made with leftover pork, fresh sourdough bread, some spicy rocket (rucola) leaves, and some great old style Maille Grain Dijon Mustard is a thing of beauty.
What to Serve with Pan-Roasted Brined and Marinated Pork Chops
My current favourite side dish for these pork chops is crushed baby potato salad with rocket and cherry tomatoes (pictured).
In the past I’ve made them with a side of creamy mashed potatoes or pumpkin mash. A light red wine sauce rounds out the flavours.
Pan-Roasted Brined and Marinated Pork Chops Recipe
- 2 pork chops
- 1 Garlic Clove
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 sprigs thyme
- ¼ cup salt
- ¼ cup sugar
- 10 peppercorns
- 5 star anise
- 5 garlic cloves
- 5 discs of ginger
- 1 ½ tsp chilli powder
- 1 ½ tsp paprika powder
- 1 ½ tsp coriander powder
- 1 ½ tsp crushed star anise
- a few sprigs of thyme
- 2 cloves garlic - crushed
- pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- Place the salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat with 2 cups of water. Stir until salt and sugar has dissolved. Add the rest of the ingredients and cool to room temperature (or add ice cubes to cool if you’re time poor). Place the pork chops in a container and cover with the brine mixture. Add extra water to cover the chops if necessary. Brine for eight hours.
- Make the marinade mixture and add to a container. Take the chops out of the brine and discard the brine. Add the chops to the marinade mixture, covering the surface of the chops well. Marinade for at least two hours or overnight.
- Remove the chops from the fridge at least half an hour before cooking to bring up to room temperature.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (355°F) in case you need to finish in the oven.
- Place a heavy oven-proof pan over medium-high heat. Add enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil is shimmering, wipe the marinade off the chops (the pieces will burn) and add to the pan.
- Cook for 3 minutes a side. If the chops have a fat cap (a fatty section on the bone-side of the chop) lay the chops on their side with the fat cap in the oil and cook quickly.
- If your chops are thick, you can cook each side an extra 2 minutes a side.
- If your chops are less than 3 cm or 1 inch thick you might not need to finish the cooking in the oven and just baste the chops in the pan with the garlic, butter and thyme. Use an instant-read thermometer to check. If the chops are not up to 50°C in the pan before the basting stage, place in an oven at 200°C for around 5 mins, but use a thermometer to check as you don’t want to go over 57°C before resting.
- Once your pork is around 57°C, rest on a rack in a warm place in the kitchen. Turn after 5 minutes and serve after 10 minutes resting.
As always, do let us know if you make this pan-roasted brined and marinated pork chops recipe as we love to hear how our dishes turn out.