I decided to saute boneless pork chops for dinner tonight. However, timing is very critical with such a lean cut of meat, so I decided to hedge my bets as it were.
Here we have the components for the most basic of brines: kosher salt, whole peppercorns, water and sugar.
Add cool water and allow to come to room temperature. Add the pork loin and move to the refrigerator. Now this is important. Do not let the pork remain in the brine for more than an hour or so. This is not one of those times when more is better.
Remove from the brining liquid and rinse. Pat dry and return to the refrigerator if not cooking immediately.
Cook as usual (here, with salt, pepper and olive oil) and relax with the knowledge that the brine allows for a wider margin of error. Or simply accept that the meat will taste all that much better for your efforts.
Ooh, we are on to one of my favorite summertime treats: Insalata Caprese. For those of us who didn't study Italian, that's Capri Salad.
Here we have some of the first tomatoes from my garden. These are Roma tomatoes, which happen to be some of my favorite tomatoes. And we have fresh basil, also from my garden. And most importantly, we have a very high quality balsamic vinegar. Now, this is one of those times when you simply must buy the very best mid-quality balsamic vinegar [hey, don't blame me, it used to be much simpler: just pick a 25 year old balsamic vinager and you were done, but now the industry has done away with the age designations, so good luck in figuring out what you are looking for. And expect to spend much time standing in front of the balsamic vinegar display at your local store, frowning. Trust me, you will be. Write your congressman, write your somebody, and complain!] (and expect to pay $15 to $25 for a bottle). But, rest assured that this is a wise investment, as you will only need a little of this ingredient for finishing sauces, such as this. I also highly recommend a good quality extra-virgin olive oil for this dish. Believe me, your efforts (and money) will be rewarded. And lastly, you need a nice, aged Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Sigh, once again, quality matters in a dish such as this. Please, get the good stuff. Or make this once with the ordinary stuff and then immediately with the good stuff and you will understand. Trust me on this: with home-grown tomatoes and basil, the good balsamic vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil and Parmegiano-Reggiano cheese and you will be in heaven.
Chiffenade the basil. Roll lengthwise into a tight tube and thinly slice.
See how pretty it is?
Shave Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese over the top.
Other equally acceptable choices are a good quality (notice a trend here?) fresh mozzarella or a nice provolone cheese.
And finish with the extra-virgin olive oil.
Now, aren't you glad you went the extra mile for your very deserving family?
Oh, and if you were wondering, the yellow pool by the pork loin is a quick mixture of one part yellow mustard to one part honey. A natural companion to pork. Trust me already.