Saturday's Kitchen: To Brine or Not to Brine?

While working in London, my husband's team was serious about food. More often than not, he would come home from the office with very detailed descriptions of his colleagues meals.
Grilling meat was a favorite topic of discussion. The usual debates circled around charcoal vs gas; chimney starters vs lighter fluid; brining vs not brining - wait, what you say, brining?

That's right, the merits of brining were often debated - is it worth the extra step, time, effort, etc. Does it really impart any flavor, does it make the meat more tender? And the answer to all these questions is: yes!

So much so that we actually brined our turkey last Thanksgiving. And let me tell you, it's not easy to brine a 20+ pound bird. There were garbage bags and beer coolers involved - it wasn't pretty - but the taste was pretty amazing, if I do say so myself.

Check out this quick and easy recipe to give brining a try!

3 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
4 3/4- to 1-inch-thick pork rib chops
1 head of Treviso radicchio
1 head of Belgian endive
3 tablespoons (about) extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon butter
Chopped fresh Italian parsley

The pork chops call for treviso, a slender, torpedo-shaped variety of radicchio that's reddish-purple with a pleasantly bitter flavor. If you can't find Treviso, use a small head of round radicchio and quarter it as directed in the recipe.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat).
Mix 1 1/2 cups water, coarse salt, and sugar in 11x7x2-inch glass baking dish; stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Add pork chops; let brine 20 minutes, turning occasionally.

Cut Treviso and endive lengthwise into quarters, keeping some core attached to each piece. Place on baking sheet; brush with some oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Boil vinegar in small skillet until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Whisk in butter. Season glaze with salt and pepper.

Remove pork from brine; pat dry. Brush with oil; sprinkle with pepper. Grill pork, Treviso, and endive until vegetables are softened and thermometer inserted horizontally into center of chops registers 150°F, 2 to 3 minutes per side for vegetables and 7 to 8 minutes per side for chops.

Transfer pork and vegetables to plates. Drizzle glaze over; sprinkle with parsley.

This is a great, simple and quick introduction to brining - it can even be done on a week night! I served mine with garlic roasted broccoli because that's what we had and there is no way my daughter would touch grilled treviso, radicchio or endive.

PS. the sauce in this recipe completely makes the dish and it's so easy too! It really takes the whole meal from everyday to something a bit more special.

As always, let me know if you try it and like it!

Have a great weekend!