For some reason, apples and pork go well together, which is why this apple cider brine makes pork chops taste so darned good! This pork chop brine has a lot going for it - a balance of tartness and sweetness, great apple flavor, and a few choice herbs and spices.
This brine isn't strictly for brining pork chops, either. Any cut of pork will get a good shot of flavor when soaked in this sweet, tart, aromatic liquid.
This pork brine recipe makes enough for 3 to 4 pounds of pork chops, or
country style ribs, or pork steaks, or pork loin...you get the idea!
It's a good all around brine for just about any pork you plan to grill
Stir all ingredients together until sugar is completely dissolved. Marinate thinner cuts like chops and steaks for one or two hours, baby back and country style ribs two to four hours. Thicker cuts like pork loins and Boston butts can go four to eight hours.
A general guideline I use for brining time is to give meats approximately 1 hour of brining time for each 1/2 inch of thickness. Any more than that can cause the meat to become too salty, but as with any recipe, use experience to guide your final decision. Personal taste comes into play, so what seems too salty for one person may be perfect for another. If your grilled or smoked brined pork has too much or too little of the flavor you want, brine for a longer or shorter time the next time you use the brine recipe.
The brined pork can now go to either the grill or the smoker.
If you're grilling, cook over medium-high direct heat for just long enough on each side to give the meat a bit of brown crust, then transfer to the cool part of the grill and cook with indirect heat until done.
Pork chops and steak will require 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on grill temperature and meat thickness. A whole pork loin will take from 1 to 2 hours. Use a good meat thermometer, removing the loin when it reaches about 145 degrees. Any higher and the pork will begin to dry out.
You may enjoy one of these recipes, too.
Cranberry Pork Loin - One and one-half inch thick slices of pork loin are grilled and topped with a zesty Cranberry-Orange sauce.
Teriyaki Pork Chops - Chops are soaked in a homemade teriyaki marinade, then grilled to perfection.
Grilled Pork Kabobs - Cubed pork and veggies are skewered and grilled for a fun, easy to eat dish.
Smoked Pork Tenderloin - A marinated tenderloin is smoked until almost done, the finished at high temperature in the grill or oven to brown..
Pulled Pork Recipe - A pork butt or Boston butt is slathered with mustard and spices, then smoked to its juicy and tender best.
Pork Dry Rub - A good, all around seasoning for chops, steaks and loins.
Would you prefer your apple cider brined pork smoked? (I know I would!) Hickory, apple and cherry wood make for some great smoke flavor here. Keep your smoker in the 225-250 degree range.
If it's thick pork chops or a nice pork loin you're smoking, bring the internal temp just up to 145 degrees - a nice medium level of doneness. A Boston butt has the best flavor if it's brought up to 190 degrees, or even 200 degrees. At that temperature, the fat and connective tissues begin melting, releasing their great flavor.