/ by Stephanie Burnette / photography by Chelsea Lane Photography
Brining, pickling and preserving are age-old practices, adding seasonal flavor to meats and produce. The steps are simple but require some time to sit around and marry, which equates to a bit of planning.
Proteins that have been brined cook evenly, ideally presenting a soft earthiness that’s hard to replicate otherwise. Paired with what’s been pickled and preserved, the crux of spring– a bridge between a season of want and a season of abundance— can be clearly identified in each bite.
The finished plate is photo-worthy for sure. Cooking at home can sometimes mean relying on butchered, boneless proteins but it’s fun to play with chops and bone-in pork is a glorious cut of meat. Area butchers are happy to supply same sized chops, simply call ahead. A 12-hour brine inserts a hefty amount of flavor into buttery pork, the addition of honey in this recipe balances a tincture full of late winter’s heavy hitters, rosemary and bay, and early spring’s fresh green super star: parsley.
Remember to pat a brined chop dry before adding it to a greased cast iron pan creating a sear that is restaurant worthy.
Fruited entrées do not need to taste sweet or be calorically charged. Chef Bollhoefer created this dish to crown a chop with what speaks to spring in our part of the Carolinas: the rhubarb harvest and a flush of strawberry, herbs and produce on hand.
Cast Iron Pork Chop with Pickled Rhubarb and Strawberry Compote
Pork Chop Brine
2 tbsp Honey
2 Bay Leaves
½ sprig Rosemary
2 sprigs Thyme
4 sprigs Parsley
6 cloves Garlic, crushed
1/8 tsp Red Pepper Flake
½ tbsp Peppercorns
1/4 cup Salt
8 cups Water
Combine all ingredients and bring to
a simmer. Remove from heat and chill completely before adding pork chops. Allow pork chops to brine for 12 hours. Remove from brine, rinse and pat dry
with paper towel.
1/2 cup Red Wine Vinegar
1/4 cup Water
1/2 cup Sugar
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Mustard seed
1 Whole clove
15 Black peppercorns
1 tsp Pink peppercorns
2 Lemon slices
2 Rhubarb stalks or 1 cup
Trim off tips (leaves) of rhubarb. Slice the rhubarb stalk in ¼ thick slices and reserve. Place lemon slices, peppercorns and clove in a cheesecloth and tie with a piece of twine. Combine all ingredients except rhubarb in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes. Allow
to cool to room temperature and pour over rhubarb. Refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.
1 tbsp Shallot, minced
1 tsp Vegetable Oil
½ cup Red Wine, pinot noir preferred
½ tbsp Cornstarch
1 tbsp Water
1 tsp Black Pepper, ground
1/2 tbsp Sugar
1/2 tbsp Rhubarb pickling liquid
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup Small Diced Strawberries
In a small saucepan heat the oil on
medium heat. Add shallots and cook until translucent, about 1 minute. Add red wine, salt, black pepper and sugar and simmer for 5 minutes. Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl or ramekin to make a slurry. Add to red wine mixture and return to a simmer. Add Strawberries and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and add pickling liquid. Sauce can be used immediately or chilled and stored for up to 2 days.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat cast iron pan over medium high heat. Add enough oil to create a thin “film” in the cast iron pan. Sear pork chops on one side for 2-3 minutes until golden brown, flip and transfer into oven. Cook pork chops until an internal temperature of 145 degrees is reached.