For Pork Chops With Great Crust, Skip The Wet Brining Step

It's hard-to-beat an easy pork chop recipe for a quick and tasty weeknight meal. All it takes is some seasoning and brine before being cooked in an oven or skillet. The quality of the dish is all in the details: Small choices maximize the texture and taste.

An especially relevant consideration is the nature of the brine. The introduction of salt tenderizes the meat, creating a melt-in-your-mouth result. There's wet vs. dry brining to consider– one with the salt dissolved in water and the other sans liquid. Each has its merits but for those seeking a crispy crust, a dry brine works best.

Coat the pork chop with salt and sugar and let it rest overnight (at least) or for up to 24 hours. The salt will release some of the pork's internal juices, which will mix with the seasoning and function like a traditional brine. However, as opposed to a wet brine, there won't be an excess of moisture, ensuring a hot pan.  As a result, the pork will sear beautifully while the interior remains tender.

A dry brine creates the perfect caramelized pork chop

Since it's all about attaining a delectable crust, dry brine is best suited for searing. Cook to the ideal internal temperature with a sous-vide, reverse sear, or careful control on a pan. However, regardless of the method, you'll need some sautee time to achieve the tasty exterior crisp. Heat the oil to a high temperature and let the pork sizzle, adjusting for even browning.

Sugar is another critical addition to the process. It'll amplify Maillard reactions on the pan, kicking up those tasty caramelizations and creating a palatably dark exterior. Recipes employ either white or brown sugar, but consider the latter for added flavor complexity.

Feel free to experiment with other seasonings, too. A touch of pepper is always welcome, as are some dried herbs. Alternatively, consider adding components to the pan while basting the seared pork. With such attentive care, the pork will come out extra tender, flavorful, and perfectly crispy.