This posting will move swiftly along the path from a favourite food of mine (pork) to my recent experiments with a cooking technique (brining meats). Fasten your seat belts.
I’ll begin by admitting I’m a sucker for pork. When we lived in Toronto and would go out to dinner, it was a no-brainer for me to choose the daily special, as long as it was something like “A thick-cut maple-glazed pork chop.”
Unfortunately, chewing the meat sometimes was like eating “thick-cut maple-glazed cardboard.” That’s because (I think) North American pigs have become leaner and leaner, so that there is not nearly as much flavourful fat marbling through the meat.
However, that doesn’t seem to be the case here in France, where we find the pork generally very tasty.
Nevertheless, I thought I would have a try at brining pork, because (a) I knew it could be done, and (b) I have become very fond of brining turkey.
(You can read about my turkey-brining success in “Getting the turkey right,” posted December 26, 2018, in which I declared that my wife Jan and I thought the brined meat “was simply excellent — moist and tender and delicious. Not at all like the dry, almost tasteless turkey that is far too common.”)
My starting point for the latest experiment was the recipe for “Maple-Brined Pork Loin” from the website Allrecipes.com. As you can imagine, the salt solution — which accomplishes the brining — was jazzed up with (among other things) maple syrup, crushed garlic, chopped ginger, and red pepper flakes.
And here’s our pork roast, after an overnight brining in the salt-and-maple-syrup solution:
For the last part of the roasting, the recipe called for basting the pork with a mixture of Dijon mustard and maple syrup. And when it was done, I think it looked fairly splendid, as you’ll see below:
But of course the proof of the brining is in the eating, and both Jan and I thought the final product wasn’t really worth the effort. I should make clear that I have no problem with the recipe itself; Jan thought the pork tasted nicely of maple syrup, while I thought it was nicely peppery.
However, the actual texture of the meat hadn’t changed all that much; I think I would have achieved a similar taste simply by basting the roast with maple syrup and Dijon mustard.
But that’s here in France. Brining might be a good technique to try if you think the pork in your country is simply too lean.