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.
That’s because you overcooked it, which is SUPER 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.
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 it to taste good. But sprinkling salt on the outside means that the salt never penetrates the meat. What if you want to salt ALL THE MEAT? Brining does 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…
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 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:
1000 g water
70 g kosher salt
50 g rosemary
25 g thyme
50 g garlic cloves, smooshed, but with skins still on
5 g 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 (500g) as ice after I pull it off the burner.
Put brine and pork into a ziplock back, seal, and refrigerate for 12-14 hours.
Remove pork from brine and rinse under running water. You don’t want any stray herbs or peppercorns sticking to the meat. Dry with paper towels, and then cook. You can reserve in the fridge, uncovered until you’re ready to cook them. Leaving them uncovered will help dry them even more, leading to a browner crust and more flavor.