Pork Brine [use it whenever you want your pork to taste good]


One of my favorite recipes in Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc Ad Home cookbook is his pork brine. And I think it should be yours too. This pork brine has saved me tons [don't fact check that] of overcooked pork.

Do you cook pork chops?
Do you ever notice how they always taste kinda tight? Like the meat isn't very juicy?

That’s because you overcooked it, which is easy to do, even if you’re a seasoned chef [oh, cooking humor] like me.

You could sous vide it. But even then, if you haven’t brined the pork, it often tastes just good, not eyes-roll-back-in-your-head great, which is guaranteed whenever you eat brined pork.

Brining is fantastic for a few reasons:

  1. The brine seasons the meat. You know how when you cook protein, you always salt it before adding it to the pan? We add salt because we want stuff to taste good. But sprinkling salt on the outside meats that the salt never penetrates the meat. What if you want to salt THE ENTIRE PIECE OF MEAT? Brining does just that. As it soaks, it absorbs the seasoned water, which means that all that flavor goes into the meat. It also means that brined meat is...

  2. More moist. I know, everyone's least favorite word. But brining meat TOTALLY pulls in a ton of moisture. It makes the meat more tender, more flavorful, it's just better. Trust me.

Okay, so the recipe is super basic. You can tweak it however much you'd like. The one thing you should NOT tweak is the time and salinity. You can, but you risk under or over salting the meat, which will lead to unhappy blog readers, which means I'd negatively impacted the world. And then I'll have to atone for that. Which means i'll have to put out more jokes to offset the... you know what? You're probably here for the recipe.

Without further ado:

1000g water
70g kosher salt
50g rosemary
25g thyme
50g garlic cloves, smooshed, but with skins still on
5g peppercorns
whatever else you want (a little honey for sweetness, perhaps?)

Add everything to a small pan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and let cool to room temperature. Put in the fridge and let cool overnight. Note: to shorten this step, I'll often add half the water (500g) to the pan for the first step and then add the rest as ice after I pull it off the burner.

Add pork.

Wait 14 hours.

Cook pork.