Let’s talk brining. You don’t have to do it, but if you’ve got time (about four hours, in this case) to let these semi-thick-cut chops rest in a salty bath, the juicy, tender results will be worth it. Larger pieces of meat or poultry need to soak longer—often overnight—to gain the full effect of brining, but a few hours is all it takes to turn individual pieces into succulent morsels that stay moist throughout cooking. Meat or poultry roasted at high temperatures can dry out quickly, but brining helps keep it hydrated from the inside out.
Brining is also one of the easiest, hands-off preparations for meat. Simply dissolve salt and sugar in an ample amount of water, add a few other seasonings, and leave it alone. In this recipe, I included peppercorns and fresh herb sprigs in the brine, but feel free to choose your own seasonings, or go with just salt, sugar, and water. The tenderization will be the same. (Other common brine ingredients include allspice berries, coriander seeds, red pepper flakes, fennel seeds, and bay leaves.)
Once the brining is finished, this simple meat-and-potatoes dinner comes together in 30 minutes. Here, I used creamy fingerling potatoes, but baby red or yellow potatoes would be a good choice too.
A drizzle of honey over the chops and melted butter over the potatoes completes the dish with a flavorful, simple-as-it-gets finish.
- 1/3 cup fine salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 8-10 black peppercorns
- 2 tarragon sprigs (about 4 inches each)
- 4 center-cut, bone-in pork chops, about 3/4-inch thick
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3/4 lbs fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted