Pork is by far the most popular meat in the Touraine. Brining is a great technique for pork chops, especially loin chops, which can dry out in cooking. A brined pork chop is guaranteed to be succulent. The only downside is that you need to be organised the day before, making the brine, allowing it to cool and marinating the chops overnight. What I tend to do is brine several meals worth of chops at a time and freeze those I don't use immediately (take them out of the brine and pat dry to freeze).
5 cups water
4 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp coarse salt
3 bay leaves, torn into several pieces
1/2 tsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed
A sprig of thyme
4 strips of lemon peel
4 pork chops
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, smacked with the blade of a chef's knife and peeled
A few fresh sage leaves
4 slices of lemon
8 chard leaves, washed, ribs removed and discarded, leaf roughly shredded
- Combine 1 cup water, the sugar, salt, bay leaves, coriander, thyme and lemon peel and bring to the boil, stirring to make sure everything is dissolved.
- Add the rest of the water and put in the fridge to cool completely.
- Once the brine is cold, put it in a shallow lidded plastic container and submerge the chops. Return to the fridge.
- The next day take the chops out and pat them dry. Discard the brine.
- Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the chops, turning several times over 10 minutes of total cooking time. Be careful not to have the pan too hot, but don't cook them on low either.
- Turn the pan off, take the chops out and keep warm.
- Add the garlic, lemon and sage to the pan and cook them with the residual heat for a couple of minutes.
- Mash them with a wooden spoon in the pan to release their flavour, then remove the rings of lemon rind.
- Turn the heat back on and add the chard to the pan.
- Put the lid on to steam the chard for several minutes, stirring a couple of times until they are soft and wilted.
- Serve the chops and greens together on warmed plates. Serves 4.
The pork chops I used came from the butcher in Preuilly. I got forequarter chops rather than loin because I made this dish during a busy holiday period and the butcher had run out of the cut I wanted. He was awaiting a delivery of another pig carcass later that day but rather than go back I figured forequarter chops would be just as good.
The chard came from my local organic market garden, Les Jardins Vergers de la Petite Rabaudière, on the outskirts of Preuilly. They sell from the farm every Tuesday evening and from the market in Preuilly every Thursday morning.