Thursday, April 13, 2006

Other people must do this too - I hope

A little spring cleaning is going on at the studio of quiltbabe, prompted by the need to store in the pantry* some of the groceries that were too good a deal to pass up this week.

Consolidating and sorting the dry supplies - adding the new rice to the little bit left in the tupperware container of old, opening the graham crackers and putting them in an airtight container, putting a couple of cans of this and that in the cupboard near the stove, and the rest in the stack for the pantry - went well enough. It was when I started pulling things out of the pantry to rearrange them I ran across something odd.

Why did I buy a full pound of kosher salt?

Apparently it was purchased a while ago, and for a specific purpose. Or so I assume, since I can't for the life of me remember what that may have been. A craft project? Unlikely.

I can only conclude I had a new brine recipe to try, and planned to use the salt for that. Naturally, I have no idea where that recipe may be. If any of you have any good brines, please pass them along. In the meantime, here is one of my favorites. I've done it with pork chops, but it really gets raves from guests when I use it for a pork tenderloin. Increase the soaking time to about 4 - 8 hours, depending on the size of the tenderloin. Bake as you usually would, until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees.

Maple Brined Pork Chops
Four servings

2 cups boiling water
2 TBS kosher salt
1 cup unsweetened apple juice
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon maple extract
1/4 tsp allspice
4 5-ounce pork chops

Stir the boiling water and salt together until the salt is dissolved. Refrigerate until cold.

Put pork chops in a baking dish just large enough to hold them in a single layer. Mix all other ingredients into the salt water mixture and pour over the chops.

Refrigerate at least 4 hours, turning chops occasionally.

Remove chops from brine and dry on paper towel. Discard brine. Cook chops in skillet with a little bit of vegetable oil until golden brown on each side, and instant read thermometer reads 160 in the center.

*For those who are not old enough to know what one is, or have not lived in a house old enough to have it, a real pantry is a little walk-in closet type of room with cupboards rising up from the floor to a counter, and shelves up above. It's used for the storage of dry/canned food, dishes, extra plastic containers, papertowel rolls, miscellaneous kitchen hand tools and infrequently used utensils, small power tools, the mops, ironing board, stepstool, WD-40, plant food and almost anything else your heart desires. Mine has a window over the counter at the back - a perfect place to cool pies if I ever made any. I've never lived in a house without one, and never care to. The little closets with a few shelves that modern builders are wont to call "pantry" just don't do it for me.

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