herb brined pork chops with roasted fennel + apples

Tender. Check. Juicy. Check. Not dry. Check.

Pork chops have always been a flop for me. The texture either doesn't seem right, they are just too dry, or they retain barely any flavor from the marinade or whatever I decide to cook them in. Finally though, I decided to give brining a try.

It's so simple. I thought it was this long process of pouring water in and out of a bag or from the pot for hours, tending to the meat all day. But no. You don't even necessarily need to add water to brine chops.

I chose not to use water because I didn't have the proper bag to keep the chops in. Is that laziness, or? Well, I did get some at Target for the next time. 

To create the herb brine you simply chop the herbs, mix with salt and pepper, and there ya go. Easy as anything. Anyone can make these pork chops and be so happy when they are ready to put in your mouth.

I decided to try purchasing meat from the Farmer's Market on Clement for this recipe. Usually we never eat meat, so I figured this was a treat and I wanted to see if there was a notable difference. I picked this pair of bone-in chops from the guys at Fallon Hills Ranch. This family-owned ranch is over on the Sonoma and Marin county line and provides sustainable, organic meat and pasture-raised eggs. Maybe it's all in my head, that I thought the chops were WAY better because I knew where they came from and I'm just insane, but seriously... they were just too good, like fall-apart melting good.

herb brined pork chops with roasted fennel + apples

Serves 2-3. Double for larger parties.

Ingredients:

For the brine:

2 bone-in pork chops, about 1 lb. total and 1 inch thick

2 tbsp rosemary, roughly chopped

1 tbsp thyme, chopped

1 tbsp salt

1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

For the roast:

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 apple, sliced

2 bulbs of fennel, sliced

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/4 cup dry white wine

Directions:

For the brine - Wash, then pat dry the pork chops with paper towels. Mix the salt, pepper, and herbs together in a small bowl. Press the mixture into the chops on each side. Place the chops on saran wrap, cover them tightly, and put in the fridge for 4-6 hours (or overnight).

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a dutch oven or ovenproof pan, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the fennel and sauté until translucent about 10 minutes. Turn down the heat to medium and add the apples and stir to evenly distribute oil and continue to cook for a couple of minutes. Push fennel + apples to sides of pan, add another tbsp of olive oil. Place the chops inside, on the surface of the pan, and brown each side for 5-7 minutes. Remove the chops when each side is browned.

Add the broth and wine to the apples and fennel. Scrape up the brown bits with a wooden spoon. Increase the heat and bring contents to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until some of the liquid has evaporated. Add the chops back to the pan, cover, and then place in the oven.

Cook the chops in the oven until they reach an internal temperature of about 145 degrees (for medium rare) or 150 degrees (for medium). In my oven, this took about 25 minutes. Serve the chops with the fennel, apples, and sauce. Enjoy!