I haven’t made a whole lot of pork lately. I’ve been swooning over spice-rubbed chicken, braising all manner of cuts beef, and grilling plenty of fish. I think pork needs its due. I am a big fan, particularly of bacon and pork belly. It must be the fat. But what about the old standby favorites? I think I’ve been shying away from cuts like pork chops and fresh hams simply because, at first blush, seem kind of mundane.
Enter brining. A great primer, including a simple ratio, from Cooks Illustrated can be found here. But in a nutshell, this technique of soaking in a salt, sugar and spice “stock,” really livens up the flavor of the more lean cuts of pork and bumps up the much needed moisture. It doesn’t require any silly flavor injectors and it’s foolproof. Adjust the flavors and seasonings as you wish and you’ll have a dinner either as familiar or exotic as you want it to be. Add in some locally and thoughtfully raised pork, mine was from Curly Tail Organic Farm, and the noble pig doesn’t get much better than this.
Basic Brine, make 1 quart per pound of meat