Monday, March 19, 2012

Best crock pot recipe ever (brined pork chops)

It's been a while since I've made a blog-worthy meal, and it's also been a while since I've made anything worth mentioning in a crock pot. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with crock pot meals. Obviously the idea of throwing a bunch of stuff into a pot in the morning, and having a delicious meal all ready and waiting at dinner time is a wonderful one... But usually all of the crock pot recipes I make turn out to be riffs on mushy meat stew in some sort of a tomato-based sauce.

I was excited when I saw this recipe for Alton Brown's slow cooked pork chops featured as the "Recipe of the Day" on the Food Network website. For one, I'd been making so much chicken lately that my whole family was really chickening out (Sorry, I heart cheesy puns). Secondly, it was something unique, unlike typical crock pot fare.

This recipe was super flavorful, and really tender. Pork chops can tend to be dry and flavorless, and these were just the opposite.

I do have to warn you, this dish is pretty labor intensive, as crock pot dishes go. First you have to brine the pork chops overnight (not a big deal, but it takes some advance planning). Secondly, you have to spend probably 30-45 minutes the next morning browning the pork chops before they go into the crock pot. So if you're looking for something where you can just dump some stuff into the crock pot and turn it on, this recipe isn't for you. But if you're looking to make a delicious, guest-worthy meal that you can prepare well ahead of dinner time, then you need to try this.

Note: Make sure you buy fairly thick, bone-in pork chops for this dish. And go ahead and make more than you think you'll need...the leftovers are fabulous too.

Another note: Some of the reviews on the Food Network website mention that the dish is too salty/peppery, but I disagree. I made it exactly as directed and thought the flavor was spot-on. Then again, I do love me some salt. If you're not a big salt fan, you can tone it down by using water or some wine in place of the chicken broth at the end.

Slow Cooker Pepper Pork Chops (from Alton Brown via


2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp black peppercorns, slightly crushed
1 lb ice
4 , 1 to 1 1/2 inch thick pork chops, bone in
2 tsp kosher salt
3 oz dried apple slices
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, julienned
1 1/2 cups chicken broth (and perhaps a smidge of white wine)
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme


Combine the broth, salt, brown sugar, and peppercorns in a medium sauce pan over medium high heat. Cook until the salt and sugar dissolve, and remove from heat and add the ice. Place the pork chops into a large ziplock bag and pour the mixture inside. Seal and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning...remove the chops from the brine, rinse and pat dry. Season on both sides with kosher salt and set aside.

Place the apples in the slow cooker. Heat 1 1/2 tsp of the olive oil in a large saute pan. Over medium high heat, sear both sides of the pork chops until golden brown, about 5-6 minutes per side. Once browned, put the chops into the crock pot atop the apples.

Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and saute the onions until soft and beginning to brown. Add the chicken broth to the pan to deglaze. (I used a little bit of white wine to deglaze, and then added the chicken broth). Add the black pepper and thyme. Transfer to the slow cooker. Set to high for 1 1/2 hours, and then turn to low. Continue cooking another 4-5 hours or until the pork is tender and falling away from the bone.

*If you're not going to be home to turn down the crock pot, just set it to low the whole time.

These chops would go great with just about any side dish you can think of. The sauce would be great to soak up with some rice, roasted potatoes, cauliflower, etc.

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