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Caribbean-Brined Pork Chops

Caribbean-Brined Pork Chops
These pork chops are soaked for a few hours in a brine flavored with lime juice and chilies to make them moist and flavorful, then are seared on the stovetop and briefly roasted in a hot oven. Rum, a popular Caribbean spirit, flavors a simple sauce that is both used as a basting sauce and spooned over the cooked chops.

Ingredients:

For the brine:

  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 5 cups room-temperature water, plus more,
     as needed
  • 6 to 8 whole allspice, lightly crushed in a
     mortar with a pestle
  • 6 to 8 peppercorns
  • 1 serrano chili, quartered lengthwise
  • 1 lime
  • 4 bone-in pork loin chops, each 10 to 12 oz.
     and about 1 1/4 inches thick

For the basting sauce:

  • 2 Tbs. dark rum
  • 2 tsp. firmly packed brown sugar
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 3 or 4 drops hot-pepper sauce
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 tsp. canola oil

Directions:

To make the brine, in a large, nonreactive bowl, combine the brown sugar, salt and the 5 cups water and stir until the sugar and salt dissolve. Add the allspice, peppercorns and chili. Cut the lime in half, squeeze the juice from each half into the bowl and add the rinds. Stir to mix all the ingredients well. Add the pork chops, making sure the brine covers the meat. If it does not, add more water as needed. Cover and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours.

Preheat an oven to 450°F.

To make the basting sauce, in a small bowl, stir together the rum, brown sugar, lime zest and juice, hot-pepper sauce, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Remove the chops from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before roasting. Rinse briefly under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Brush or rub the chops on both sides with the oil.

Preheat a large, heavy ovenproof fry pan over high heat until very hot. Arrange the chops in the pan and sear for 2 minutes. Turn the chops and sear for 2 minutes on the other side. Brush with some of the basting sauce and immediately transfer the pan to the oven. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meat, away from the bone, registers 140° to 150°F for medium-well done, about 8 minutes.

Transfer the chops to individual plates. Pour the remaining basting sauce into the fry pan, set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom. Boil for 1 minute, then spoon the sauce over the chops, dividing it evenly. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Roasting, by Rick Rodgers, Melanie Barnard & Bob & Colleen Simmons (Oxmoor House, 2004).