You don't have to brine pork chops, but when you do it seasons the meat more deeply and helps them retain moisture throughout cooking. Try this dish with a pear and frisée salad dressed with mustard and red wine vinegar on the side. Begin this recipe a day ahead to brine the pork.
- 2 large pork cutlets (about 2cm thick), fat cap and skin on
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 corella pears, cut into wedges
- 50 gm butter
- ½ cup (loosely packed) sage
- 25 gm roasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
- Pear and frisée salad (optional), to serve
- 325 gm coarse sea salt
- 150 gm caster sugar
- 10 black peppercorns
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 1For brine, combine salt, sugar and 800ml water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve. Remove from heat, add peppercorns, thyme and 900ml water. Cool, then refrigerate until chilled (1 hour).
- 2Score skin of pork cutlets at 3cm intervals, place cutlets in a non-reactive container with brine and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight. (Alternatively, place in two snap-lock bags, fill with brine and seal well before refrigerating.) Drain (discard brine), pat dry and refrigerate uncovered to dry out (1 hour).
- 3Preheat oven to 200°C. Place a sheet of baking paper in a large ovenproof frying pan over high heat. Add oil and pork, skin-side down, and cook, rotating to colour all the skin, until skin starts to crackle (2-3 minutes). Remove paper, then turn pork and cook, turning once, until golden (1-2 minutes each side). Add pear wedges to pan, then transfer pan to oven and roast until pork is cooked to your liking (10-12 minutes for medium-well). Transfer pork and pear to a plate, cover loosely with foil and rest for 5 minutes.
- 4Tip pan juices into a heatproof bowl, then add butter to pan and swirl over high heat until nut-brown (2-3 minutes). Add sage and hazelnuts and cook, tossing occasionally, until sage is crisp (1-2 minutes). Return reserved pan juices to pan and stir to combine. Spoon sauce over pork and pear wedges and serve with salad.
Drink suggestion: rustic farmhouse cider. Drink suggestion by Max Allen.