It seems to be my week for forgetting. I forgot to thaw the pork chops for dinner tonight so I’ll pass along my tip for quick thawing meat. It takes about 1-2 hours depending on how much meat you are thawing but I’m working with about a pound of pork chops that are all bunched up, not laid out nicely and stacked flat. If you have a larger chunk of meat, like a tritip or a roast (I don’t thaw roasts, I cook them from frozen, but I know some people like to brown a roast before sticking it in the crock pot or oven) it will take longer.

Today’s brine is water, salt, pepper, sugar, bay leaves, celery seed, garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, fresh thyme and cranberries. Yum.

Quick Thawing Tip:
Take your meat and put it in a zip-top bag. You can add a brine (I did) or a marinade if you want but you don’t have to. Get out as much air as you can. Put the bag with the meat in a bowl or other vessel that will hold the whole thing with an inch or two above the bag. Fill the bowl with cold water and set your sink to dribble a little bit of cold water into the bowl and leave it running. The barely running cold water will provide convection and thaw your meat evenly without letting it get into the unsafe food temp zone of 40-140 degrees. This works great and I’ve done it many times when I realize it’s 4:00 and I haven’t thawed that piece of meat for dinner. It really doesn’t use much water but if you are worried about wasting you can just fill the bowl, let it sit 30 minutes then dump it out and refill it with cold water. It will take longer this way but it’s better than waiting for it to thaw on it’s own or trying to defrost in the microwave. I don’t know about you but I always end up cooking the outside of the meat and the inside is still frozen when I use the microwave.

Brine Recipe

Over at The Grocery Cart Challenge, http://grocerycartchallenge.blogspot.com/ , she has a recipe/instructions for roasting a whole chicken in the crock pot.  It’s something I always wanted to do but never knew how.  Thank you for the recipe!

Now I’ll share a recipe/tip of my own.  Whenever I make a whole chicken, or chicken or pork of any large cut, I brine it overnight before I cook it.  It’s a very simple process and it’s well worth the effort.

Here is a general recipe for the brine.

2 cups water
1/4 cup salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon pepper corns (or red chili flakes)
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon mustard seed
2 bay leaves
1 lemon cut into little pieces

Boil the water and all spices but the lemon until the salt and sugar are dissolved.  Then let cool down or add some ice cubes to cool it down fast.  Then put the lemon and the brine into a zip bag or container big enough for the chicken (or pork) and put the meat in with the brine.  If you use a bag squeeze out the air and seal.  If you use a container you may have to add more water to make sure it is covered.  You can start the brine the night before or the morning that you intend to cook the meat but I wouldn’t go more than 24 hours before cooking.  Also, you can add whatever spices/seasonings that you would like.  Rosemary and thyme are both great in the brine as are any number of ethnic seasonings.  Or you can add sage or poultry seasoning to give it that thanksgiving taste.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ NOTE ADDED~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

I forgot to add that you can put any combo of spices and herbs in this as long as the salt/sugar content stays the same.  You can even used dried fruit (apricots or cranberries are very yummy and you can strain them out and cook them with the meat), fresh fruit (sliced apples are good too, especially with pork), fresh veggies (sliced or diced carrots/celery/peppers/garlic/onion all go good with this), or you can use broth (I would cut back on the salt a little if you use broth), or wine, or juice (you can keep the sugar amount the same or you can use less) like apple juice.  Citrus, especially grapefruit juice, is really good with pork, lemon or orange work good with chicken though if you are using acids (vinegar or citrus juice) with meat you might not want to brine it for more than 12 hours, the acid will “cook” the meat and it won’t turn out right.  Though having citrus cut up in the brine doesn’t seem to have that effect I would keep an eye on it and if the meat starts turning white drain the brine off and put it back in the fridge until you are ready to cook it.

~~~~~~Happy Brining!!!!~~~~~~

Sour Cream Pork Chops

For Beth

This also works with chicken and brining the pork or chicken before you cook it just adds to the flavor and juiciness.

4 thick cut pork chops
1/2 cup sour cream (not the light or fat free stuff, it doesn’t melt right)
1/2 cup chicken stock or broth (if you don’t have this you can use water or apple juice)
3 tablespoons white wine or apple cider vinegar
1/2 onion sliced thin
2 tsp dried thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
flour to coat pork chops

Mix together the flour salt and pepper and lightly coat the pork chops. Brown pork chops and onions in oven proof pan in a little oil. Or you can brown and transfer them to an oven proof baking dish. Mix together the sour cream, chicken stock, vinegar, bay leaves and thyme with a little bit of salt. Pour over pork chops and onions. Put in a 300 degree oven for 45 minutes spooning some of the sauce over the chops every 15 minutes.

This is REALLY good over rice but it’s great all by itself with some veggies.