It took me a long time to come back to pork chops.
They haunted my childhood in the dried and tasteless form of a dish always referred to in our family as “Old Faithful,” which was hands-down my Dad’s top favorite dish (I get my culinary tastes from my mother.) Old Faithful went like this: you put down a layer of Uncle Ben’s rice in a pyrex dish, then you sat some pork chops on top of them and then a tomato slice, a ring of onion, and a ring of (yeeeeeechhhhhh) green pepper. Then you poured water on top of it and bunged it in the oven at 350 for an hour.
It was horrible. I can’t do it justice, but I’d love to see someone like Jonathan Franzen have a go. It was six kinds of horrible and everyone except my Dad realized it. I vowed, as you do when you are 12 and very very very bored, to grow up and never ever have Old Faithful again.
Then I learned about brining and grilling. I came hesitatingly back to pork as a food group and then started to experiment with treating pork chops before cooking them. A whole new vista opened up. Great things happen to pork chops when you give them a bit of TLC! The combination of a sweet and salty brine and a tangy marinade get the meat ready for a quick grill or pan sear that locks in flavor and moisture. Most of the work can be done ahead of time, which make these an idea dinner party dish or a quick midweek meal. They go well with mashed potatoes, risotto, or just a nice green salad and a loaf of french bread.
Even my Dad has given these his seal of approval, so I’ve christened them “New Faithful.” Give them a try!
New Faithful — Lemon Thyme Pork chops
For The Marinade
For The Brine
Preheat your grill to the hottest setting. Temper the grill with a wad of paper towels dipped in vegetable oil (use tongs for safety). Place the chops on the grill and sear for 3 minutes. Salt and pepper the opposite side before flipping. Sear the opposite side for 3 minutes. Use a pair of tongs to lift and char the fatty edge of the chops. Remove to a platter and tent with foil. Serve immediately.
To Pan Sear:
Place a large skillet on high heat and skim with 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil. Use a paper towel to mop up excess oil. When the oil is smoking, add the chops. Sear for 2/3 minutes on each side, then remove to a platter and tent with foil.
Serve, and enjoy!
Hey there Moscovores!
Do you have an Old Faithful lurking in your culinary closet? What’s your story? Hit the comment button and share!