Why It Pays To Brine Pork Chops

If you're a meat eater, chances are you love sinking your teeth into a big, juicy, perfectly browned pork chop. Whether on the bone or off, oven-roasted or charcoal-grilled, accompanied by chunky applesauce or soft braised cabbage — there's just something classically appealing about this cut of meat.

Or at least in our mind's eye, there is. While the platonic ideal of a pork chop is a moist, succulent one, all too often, chops — whether prepared at home or ordered in a restaurant — arrive at the table tough, dry, and far from delicious. Over the years, The Guardian explains, naturally fatty pigs have been bred leaner and leaner due to dietary trends, and as the fat has been bred out of pigs, it's been tougher and tougher (pun intended) to keep pork nice and juicy as it cooks. So what to do? Enter brining, the simple salting process that can help restore your pork chops to the moist perfection we all deserve to dig into.

Brining can add flavor and juiciness to pork chops

Since fat in meat equals both flavor and juiciness (via the Korean Journal of Food Science of Animal Resources), lean pork chops can tend towards both toughness and lack of flavor, according to Food Network. That's why the outlet advocates for even just a few minutes of brining, that process of soaking meat in a solution of water, salt, and often sugar and other flavorings for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight if you're in the mood to plan ahead (via Allrecipes). Doing so will help insulate the pork as it cooks and also adds flavor.

If you want to cut down on mess and add even more flavor to your pork chops, you should consider a dry brine, according to Kitchn. This method calls for coarse salt to be rubbed over the chops — no solution required — and can feature other flavorings such as ground pepper and dried herbs. The technique tenderizes pork just as effectively as wet brine but takes up less space in your fridge since you won't need to make room for a sloshy dish of salty brine. It does, however, take longer, with the salted chops requiring between eight and 24 hours, according to the outlet. So whether you're long on time or short or prefer to brine wet or dry, make sure to bust out the salt the next time pork is on the menu: Your dinner guests will all thank you.