Thursday, June 09, 2011

Jalapeño and beer brined pork chops



“Are you familiar with the pork chop theory?” asked food writer Virginia Willis. I admitted that I was not. “Let me explain,” she said. And then she did.

Before I tell you about the pork chop theory, however, let me just say that that illuminating conversation was just one of many I had last week in Austin while attending the International Association of Culinary Professionals annual conference. This gathering, which draws large crowds (over 800 were in attendance this year), is not one that I would normally be attracted to as I prefer smaller events. But when I saw that the conference was going to be held in my home state I knew that I had to attend.

While I’m still processing all that I learned, one thing that gave me joy was seeing first-time visitors to Texas fall in love with our great state. Despite the triple-digit temperatures, the conference attendees took to the Austin streets on foot and on bikes—sampling barbecue, tacos and ice cream, among many other excellent dishes on offer. In between sessions, people would gather in groups and compare notes about where they’d eaten that day—insisting that if one hadn’t been to a favorite place yet they must go soon. It made me smile to see people flush with discovery.



But besides the thrill of seeing people fall in love with my home state, the conference also gave me an opportunity to connect with far-flung friends that I usually communicate with only online. Sure, I’ve had many substantive conversations with friends over email, Twitter or Facebook, but there’s something to be said about the power of meeting in person and sharing a hug and a meal.

One such meal was held at Lambert’s, a downtown Austin restaurant that specializes in upscale Texan home cooking and barbecue. The temperature had dropped, so we sat on the patio enjoying a gentle breeze coming off of Lady Bird Lake. While spearing our forks into large plates filled with ranch style beans, collard greens, sausages, ribs, and, yes, pork chops, we talked about community, sharing and giving thanks—the foundations for healthy relationships with both friends and colleagues.

Which leads me back to Virginia Willis and the pork chop theory. Willis, a veteran author, was giving me tips about what to expect when my book is published, emphasizing how all authors can help each other. To illustrate her point, she quoted Nathalie Dupree who came up with the pork chop premise.

According to Dupree, if you cook one pork chop in a pan on high heat it will burn. But if you cook two pork chops in a pan, the chops will cook evenly as each chop’s fat will feed the other. As Willis has written, “It’s the ultimate in giving, sharing, and developing mutually beneficial partnerships and relationships. It’s not about competition, it’s about sharing the fat, sharing the love.”



With that, I leave you with these jalapeño and beer brined pork chops. The fiery, flavorful brine makes for a tender and juicy chop, which can be pan fried, roasted or thrown on the grill. I like to serve them unadorned, but they would be also be terrific with a splash of green sauce or pico de gallo. But no matter how you serve them, just be sure to share the fat and share the love!

Jalapeño and beer brined pork chops
Ingredients:
4 jalapeños, cut in half, lengthwise
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup cilantro
1 12-ounce bottle of Mexican lager
4 medium (about 6-ounces each) bone-in pork chops
1 teaspoon vegetable oil

Method:
In a large, non-reactive container or food-storage bag, mix together the jalapeños, garlic, salt, pepper, brown sugar, lime juice, cilantro and beer. Place the pork chops in the container and then add cold water until the chops are covered, about two cups. Place the container in the refrigerator, and let the pork chops marinate for at least four hours.

To cook the pork chops, remove from them from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large ovenproof skillet, heat up the vegetable oil on medium heat. Remove the pork chops from the brine, shaking off any excess. Place the pork chops in the skillet, and cook on each side for 5 minutes. Place the skillet in the oven, and cook the pork chops for 15 minutes, uncovered, or until a meat thermometer reads 145 degrees. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Alternatively, you can cook them on the grill about 10 minutes per side, or until a thermometer reads 145 degrees. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Yield: 4 servings

Note: If you don't want to use beer, ginger ale would be a good substitute.

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42 comments:

Margie said...

Wow. Excellent theory. And, I LOVE when people fall in love with my Texas as well. :)

Celeste said...

I love pork with green sauce! I think we need to try this brine very soon. I'm so happy that you had a great time at the event. I'm missing Texas sorely right now myself.

shauna said...

It was my honor to share that meal at Lamberts with you. I wish you didn't live so far away. But at least we had the pork chops.

Rashda said...

It was amazing how supportive and encouraging everyone was. Loved IACP & loved meeting you in person. :)

Shawnda said...

I think it's a wonderful theory with applications in all areas of life!

Virginia Willis said...

Reading this made me so happy. Just beautiful, thank you. IACP was wonderful as was Austin. Hope we get to cook together this fall. Many thanks once again.
Bon Appetit, Y'all! Best VA

Janus said...

Should you serve with applesauce?

Aidan said...

i love the pork chop theory about as much as i love pork chops. nothing better. well done austin, how i miss you.
i'll be making this with your ranch style beans recipe.
aidan

Jumper said...

Then I will name my new discovery "the bacon corollary." Which is to use yesterday's bacon fat to cook today's bacon in. More even cooking, less chance of scorching, less chance of under-cooked areas. And it's not any fattier if you drain it like always.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Margie--I know, it's one of my favorite things seeing people fall in love with Texas!

Celeste--Pork and green sauce were made for each other!

Shauna--That was a mighty fine meal!

Rashda--Loved meeting you, too!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Shawnda--I agree, it definitely applies to all aspects of life.

Virginia--You're very welcome. Thank you for sharing your wisdom!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Janus--Sure you can, but I'm not fond of applesauce in the summer.

Aidan--It goes great with ranch style beans.

Jumper--Love it!

Miss G said...

I'm very excited that your cookbook is coming out so soon! I found your blog a few months ago and have been enjoying your recipes (I am now bound by solemn oath to make breakfast jalepeno/cheese casserole every weekend for boyfriend and friends). I grew up in Austin and now live in Albuquerque so I appreciate your use of peppers, something other cooks take too lightly!

cheers,
Gwen

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Gwen--Thank you! I'm a big fan of the chile pepper.

Georgia Pellegrini said...

Totally up my alley! I hope it's going to be in the new book : ) Or at least I hope lots of jalapenos will be!

Janus said...

Okay, I think my little allusion may have gone over everyone's head. Darn.

Christine said...

I had pan roasted (seared and then in a hot oven for 8 minutes) two beautiful locally grown pork chops, just last Sunday! The two to the pan was perfect, but I am certainly sorry not to have your brine recipe before then. Nothing to do, but pick up more chops!

the_matt said...

You always have a way of making me miss Texas (though I'll never get used to hearing folks call it Lady Bird Lake, as dear as the woman is to my heart).

I've always been a spicy mustard pork chop marinater (and made a nice mustard cream gravy with all those pan drippings) until I tried brining for the first time this past winter; you might well have me converted with this recipe!

Cheri (aka "The Mom Lady") said...

I hope you don't mind - I borrowed bits of your post today in my own blog. Not to worry in that I gave you full credit with links, shout out and all that good stuff. But the pork chop theory was too good to not share! If you have concerns with it, please let me know and I'll remove it. Its at mrsculater.com. Really enjoyed this post - thanks,

Farmer Jen said...

Excellent theory and recipe. Now I am hungry again!

Lea Ann said...

I was just wondering what sounded fun for Saturday night dinner! Gotta give this a try.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Georgia--My book does indeed have a ton of jalapeños!

Janus--Brady Bunch?

Christine--I agree!

The_Matt--I know, it does feel strange to say Lady Bird Lake.

Cheri--Looks good!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Farmer Jen--Isn't it a great theory?

Lea Ann--These are perfect for Saturday night!

Janus said...

You got it. Trying for the humor, and apparently falling flat. :(

Nicole said...

I just wanted to say that this recipe sounds fantastic! And I'm glad you had a great time in Austin... but I will never, ever call it Lady Bird Lake. What on earth were they thinking!? Crazies. :)

Helene said...

While I was writing my photo book, I was also photographing Virginia's upcoming cookbook and witnessed first hand the application of the pork chop theory. Except there were not 2 pork chops in the pan that week but at least 6 ... and that made it even more awesome.
I am really thrilled when people I admire finally meet :)
Lovely post Lisa!

Mrs. Jeffries said...

Absolutely flippin amazing! I thing my husband re-fell in love with me. I served them with pico de gallo (which your recipe was exactly like the one I use when making salsa) and corn on the cob and RANCH BEANS! I had no idea you couldn't get them everywhere! ( I am in south CA)
I am a home sick Texan though I have never lived there. Is that possible!? Thank you for being out there on the interweb. I love you!
Michelle

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Nicole--I still call it Town Lake, too. But actually, I kind of like that it's now Lady Bird Lake since she did so much to make that part of Austin pretty.

Helene--Six pork chops--I love it! And isn't it amazing the connections we've made just through blogging?

Mrs. Jeffries--Hurrah! I'm so pleased that they were a hit!

Anonymous said...

This may be a silly question, but I couldn't quite tell--how much heat does this recipe pack?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Anon--They're not that hot, in my opinion.

MJ said...

WOW, that is an incredible flavor

Nate said...

Awesome, simply awesome. Tomorrow an earlier blog post French Toast casserole. Can't wait, thanks for sharing!

Mary @ stylefyles said...

mmmm jalapenos and beer on anything is a-ok in my book. Make that anything meat and I'm out for the count. I made your French Toast casserole, too....it was FANTASTIC!

Justin said...

I'm thinking about using this brine for chicken thighs which I will then smoke. If I brined overnight, would it be too much?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Justin--I think that would be fine.

Dr. Bussey said...

I am excited to try this, Lisa. I consider pork chops a bete noir, but I confess to being last minute, so brining will be a new technique. Fortunately, Mexican lager is usually on hand in my fridge (which has moved to the Atlanta since I last wrote). Book! Sounds like my xmas gift problems are over. --susan.

chaverland said...

These were the best pork chops I have ever had! We had this last night and have already planned to have them again next week when we have company over. Wish I had noticed this earlier it would have been perfect for Sunday dinner before we saw Ray Price at the Paramount Theatre in Austin. Thanks for the recipe.

Cheryl

C Kitchenette said...

Hi Lisa! I've been following your blog for a while. I love the chipotle mayo! I recently started a cooking blog and I wanted to try this recipe and post the results. I would link back to you of course. Do you mind? Thanks!!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Hi C--That's cool--here's more information about blogging about other people's recipes. Happy cooking!

Brendon said...

Have made this and loved it- and getting your boo last fall definitely eased a tough move from Austin to South Carolina. ;)

Random question: Mis-remembered this and started prepping this marinade while thawing chicken breasts— any feedback on whether it would translate alright? Otherwise, may try and it and post back to the thread...

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Brandon--I've never made it with chicken breasts, but I bet it would be good.

Kristen said...

I've always brined my turkeys, this year I'm going to make jalapeno beer brined turkey. I can't wait to see how it comes out!!!

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