Bald Food Dude?

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At the beginning of 2015, I thought I needed something to focus on…something that could use my skills and my passions and my creativity. I have been blogging for almost a decade, and I had just read an article about monetizing websites. So…after discussing things with my wife and considering how much I enjoy cooking, I decided to try a food blog.

It was a very nice diversion for both of us for a while. Then it became overwhelming. Then circumstances changed and feelings changed, life changed, and everything changed.

So, I decided to shut it down. I don’t want to lose the content, however…so I’m posting it all here in this subcategory.

It is a sadness to me…reading these words about the Curly-Haired Chick and about us cooking together and doing life together. Right now, as I write this, I can hear her in the garage…packing up her things and preparing to take another load to her new place.

It all hurts right now.

But there were some beautiful times…and some genuine love…and some really good food.

And here is a time capsule of some of it.

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About the Bald Food Dude

Bald Food Dude and his sidekick - the Curly-Haired Chick - explore Crater Lake National Park from the safety of their snowshoes.

Bald Food Dude and his sidekick – the Curly-Haired Chick – explore Crater Lake National Park from the safety of their snowshoes.

I’m just a guy with a deep appreciation of food, a love of cooking, and a passion for sharing a table with friends and family.
Also, I’m bald.

Okay…this may sound kind of negative, but one of my earliest food-related memories involves me sitting at the kitchen table with a plate of food that I refused to eat. My mom was making good on her threat to have me stay at the table until my dinner was gone. Wasting food – even food I absolutely, positively, truly had no intention of eating – was not an option.

Honestly, it’s not a bad memory. It actually cracks me up because pretty much every other food-related memory is a great one. Cooking and eating were a big part of growing up. My mom is famous for making waaaaay too much food and insisting that you take some with you when you leave. I catch myself doing the same thing now!

Something you should know about me is that I’m not a chef. I don’t have any formal culinary training or pedigree…I’m just a guy who loves to cook and loves to share the table with the people in my life.

My day job is being a 3rd grade teacher to 27 tiny people who have an amazing supply of energy. I love integrating technology into my classroom, so I started blogging with my students back in 2006. It opened my eyes to the incredible connections which can be made across geographic borders through blogs. I began to collaborate with teachers around the country, keeping track of what my students and I were learning online.

So, how did I make the jump from classroom blogger to food blogger? Simple! I just decided it was time to get out of my comfort zone and chronicle something that I love.

The Bald Food Dude/Curly-Haired Chick family get ready to zipline through the forests of Southern Oregon. (It was an absolute blast!!!)

The Bald Food Dude/Curly-Haired Chick family get ready to zipline through the forests of Southern Oregon. (It was an absolute blast!!!)

A note about the recipes and posts you’ll find on Bald Food Dude. It’s stuff that I love, that my family (all those beautiful people in that photo over there!) loves, that is good for you or not-so-good for you, that is relatively easy to make, and that is pretty dang tasty. Remember what I said earlier…I’m not a trained, professional chef. I make mistakes all the time and try my best to learn from them. If you think of something I should try differently, let me know!

So there you go. You’ve found your way to the Bald Food Dude and I’m glad you’re here. Leave a comment so I know how you enjoyed your stay.

David – The Bald Food Dude

Skillet Cornbread

Skillet Corn BreadOur family is packing up and heading for the hills this morning.

It’s not what it sounds like…we’re not running away from anything (that whole thing with the neighbor’s cat was a total misunderstanding!), we’re running TO something. About a gazillion years ago, my mom and dad bought a 10 acre patch on the side of a mountain in Southern Oregon. It is the home to tall trees, cold water creeks, and more peace and soul restoration than one could think possible to pack into a small chunk of wilderness. When I was a teenager, my parents built a rustic cabin on that mountainside. (By rustic, I mean an awesome cabiny shell with no electricity or plumbing. C’mon…rough it a little!)

The Mountain, as I typically call it, has been a retreat for three generations of my family, and it’s where we’re headed today.

As the Curly-Haired Chick and I were planning our meals, it seemed like the respectful and brilliant thing to take along one of the Griswold cast iron skillets my dad gave me and use it for as many dishes as possible. At the top of that list is Skillet Cornbread. This recipe is easy, delicious, and a good match for either cooking at home or while camping. Cooking over a campfire requires a slightly different plan, of course…I’d recommend taking a Dutch oven approach and harnessing the heating power of embers.

Well, the coolers are filled with ice and tastiness, the truck is packed for the road, and it’s time that we wrangle the kids and blaze a trail. I hope you and yours find some time to enjoy a hot, buttery slice of cornbread soon.

Skillet Cornbread
Recipe Type: Bread
Cuisine: Southern
Author: Bald Food Dude
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Serves: 8
A cast iron skillet is to cornbread what Starsky was to Hutch…what Luke Duke was to Bo (can you tell I grew up in the 70s and 80s?)…what Beyonce is to Jay Z. It’s a perfect combination. Go get some!
Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup instant nonfat dry milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Butter or vegetable oil, for skillet (use the butter…it loves you.)
Instructions
  1. Over low, heat a 9-inch cast iron skillet with a cover. (It helps a great deal if that cast iron skillet was handed down to you by a grandparent or generous neighbor. It’s totally fine, though, if you have to buy if for yourself. Look for them at second-hand stores in small, out of the way towns.)
  2. Mix flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, cornmeal, and nonfat dry milk in a large bowl.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together egg, 3/4 cup water, and melted butter. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients, and pour the egg mixture into it. Stir until just combined.
  4. Brush bottom, sides, and inside of skillet lid with melted butter or vegetable oil; pour in the batter. Cover, and cook over low heat until top feels almost dry, about 35 minutes (check the bottom occasionally to make sure it’s not burning; lower heat if necessary). Invert onto the skillet cover; oil pan bottom again. Slide bread back into pan, and cook 5 minutes more, until dry and light brown. Transfer to a plate, let cool slightly, and cut into slices or wedges and serve to your hungry family with something wonderful like chili or a hearty soup, or just more butter and some honey.

Mojo Red Raw Juice

Red JuiceA guy I’ve known for years (I mean YEARS!) had a raw juice-driven personal transformation a few years ago. Web (that’s his name) was having some pretty significant health issues and was fed up with medication…so he decided to shift to a raw food diet focused, largely, on juicing. The outcome was so positive and impressive that he and his wife opened a great business in Ashland, Oregon called NW Raw.

One of my favorite concoctions on their menu is Mojo: a bold, zippy blend of carrot, apple, beet, kale, apple, and ginger. It starts with a nice sweetness, but follows quickly with a gingery/citrus edge that reminds you not to take it too lightly. The thing I like best about Mojo is the way it makes me feel. It’s invigorating (sheesh…now I sound like a 19th-century snake oil salesman!) and refreshing.

The first time I tasted Mojo was a couple summers ago when I was nearing the end of a 30-mile bike ride. I was pretty worn out when I stopped at the Farmers’ Market and found the NW Raw booth, but a few sips of this glorious red nectar kicked me in the riding spandex-covered butt and got me back to pedaling down the road.

When the Curly-Haired Chick and I decided to start making juice at home, this was one of the first things we tried to replicate. I often take it to school as my lunch, and I feel a difference in my energy and focus when I skip it.

A little postscript…the combination of beet and kale gives Mojo a bit of an earthy flavor. Honestly, don’t let that steer you away. Even if it’s an acquired taste, it’s very much worth it. The health benefits of beet root are significant. It detoxifies and protects your liver, can lower blood pressure, and is a rich source of dietary antioxidants.

Kale, likewise, is an incredibly rich source of nutrients. It is packed with iron and vitamin K, fights inflammation, boosts immunity, and is a powerhouse ally to your heart health. What’s NOT to love about this juice?

C’mon…embrace the Mojo and get your red juice on today.

Mojo Red Raw Juice
Recipe Type: Beverage
Cuisine: Vegan, Juice, Raw Food
Author: NW Raw/Bald Food Dude
Prep time: 10 mins
Total time: 10 mins
Serves: 1 quart
A bold, invigorating raw juice that will energize your activities and bolster your health.
Ingredients
  • 4-5 stalks fresh kale
  • 2 Granny Smith apples
  • 1 inch of ginger root
  • 1/2 lemon, peeled
  • 1 medium beet root
  • 4 medium carrots
Instructions
  1. Wash and prep your fruit and vegetables. I peel only the lemon. The carrot, apple, ginger, and beet can all keep their skin on.
  2. Feed the ingredients into your juicer in the order shown. I use an Omega masticating juicer and absolutely love it. I’ve found that starting with the leafy greens, then moving to soft fruit or vegetables, and finishing with the tougher roots is a good way to maximize juice yield.
  3. Raw juice oxidizes quickly, reducing some of the health benefits. We store juice in glass mason jars and use it within a day or two of making it.
  4. Chill and enjoy!

Corn Chowder

Corn ChowderYou gravitate toward certain foods when you’re feeling under the weather. For my daughter, today, it was corn chowder.

Soup, in general, is very comforting. It’s something about the warmth and heartiness that bolsters up the ailing. So, as my daughter dozed on the couch, I chopped vegetables and simmered a pot of deliciousness.

I like leaving the peel on the potatoes because it makes the chowder more rustically beautiful. (As it turns out, this decision wasn’t so popular with my daughter…but what does she know?) Another thing I really like about this version is how quick and easy it is…just about 30 minutes from start to serving. That’s perfect when you’re trying to feed a starving convalescent…

There’s one more thing I love about this recipe: it gives you a legitimate reason to use the word, “chowder”. Let’s face it…it’s just an awesome word! (I know you just said it out loud…am I right?)

“Chowder,” he said as he filled the tureen. “You’ll thank me later.”

Corn Chowder
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Total time: 30 mins
Serves: 4 cups
Ingredients
  • 1 celery stalk (reserve the leaves)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1½ tablespoons butter
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups half and half
  • 1 medium russet potatoes, cut into small cubes
  • 3 green onions
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh chives and/or parsley (optional)
Instructions
  1. Pull the leaves from the celery stalks and set them aside. Chop the celery, carrot, and onion into small pieces.
  2. Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the celery (not the leaves), carrot, onion, and thyme. Stir until the vegetables start to brown.
  3. Sprinkle the flour over the veggies and stir for a few more minutes. Pour in the half and half, add the potato and bring to a boil, stirring so the soup doesn’t stick to the pot. Cook about 10 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
  4. Chop the celery leaves and slice the green onions. When the potatoes are tender, stir in the corn, green onions, and celery leaves.
  5. Bring the soup back to the boil, then serve with a nice, crusty bread.

Turkey Tacos

Turkey TacosI ask you this question… Who DOESN’T love tacos? (If a loved one’s name just popped into your head, make this recipe right now, invite them over to try it, and BOOM! Problem solved.)

The glory of tacos is that they can be modified in a bazillion different ways depending on your mood and culinary preference. Fish tacos…pork tacos…beef tacos….let’s face it, they’re all just different varieties of Awesome Tacos.

This recipe for Turkey Tacos kind of caught the Curly-Haired Chick off guard. When I told her we’d be adding beer to the mix she was elated. (The CHC and the BFD do enjoy the cold refreshment of an IPA from time to time.) When I further explained that we’d be tossing in a quarter cup of chopped golden raisins, she threatened to leave me.

Not really…but the reaction was not one of joy.

Then….oh, glorious, then…she took a bite of these handfuls of taco tastiness and her mood lifted, her eyes brightened, and the heavens opened up with taco-y songs of jubilation. You see, the beer adds flavor and the raisins keep the whole mixture from drying out. This is pretty important because dry tacos are some of the ONLY tacos that fall outside of the Awesome Taco circle in the Venn diagram of deliciousness.

Now, if there is STILL anyone you can think of that doesn’t love tacos, you may want to stage an intervention as soon as possible. It’s the kind and loving thing to do. Just be sure to have a couple plates of these babies ready for when reason and good taste prevail.

Turkey Tacos
Recipe Type: Dinner
Cuisine: Mexican
Author: Bald Food Dude
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 25 mins
Serves: 8
This is a great dish for family dinner, game night, block parties, and anytime you want some handheld tastiness. A couple of ingredients may catch your attention as being a bit unusual: beer and golden raisins. They both keep the meat moist and do a great job of bumping up the flavor without drawing too much attention.
Ingredients
  • Taco Filling:
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 cup beer
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • For Building the Tacos:
  • 2 cups pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 romaine lettuce heart, shredded
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • corn tortillas
  • For Garnish:
  • salsa verde
  • cilantro
  • sour cream
Instructions
  1. Coat a large nonstick skillet with olive oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the ground turkey and break up with a spoon. Flavor the meat with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning.
  3. Add the garlic, onions, and raisins to the meat, then season with the chili powder and cumin.
  4. Cook for 5 minutes, then stir in the beer and deglaze the pan.
  5. Stir in the tomato sauce and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.
  6. To assemble the tacos, fill tortillas with a couple spoons of seasoned turkey meat and top with shredded cheese. Finish with lettuce, tomato, salsa, cilantro, sour cream, and any other tasty topping you enjoy.

Rustic Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes

Okay, first we need to talk about this whole “rustic” thing. When I say rustic, I don’t mean lumpy and suspicious. I don’t mean unwashed and gritty.

Nope, I mean full-bodied and full of character.

The thing I love about these rustic mashed potatoes is that it’s an interactive eating experience. We aren’t peeling the spuds and we aren’t mashing the dickens out of them. And those potato skins…those chunks of un-mashed potato…the tang of boiled garlic…it’s all pretty spectacular and deeply satisfying.

Since I mentioned the garlic in that last paragraph, let me give you a bit more narrative. If you look at other “rustic” mashed potato recipes you will often find the suggestion to use roasted garlic. The basic approach for roasting garlic is to peel off a layer or two of the papery outer skin of the garlic head without disassembling the whole thing. Then slice off the top of the head, exposing the ends of the cloves. Drizzle the heads of garlic with olive oil, wrap them together in foil, and place on a baking sheet. Then, bake them in the oven at 400-degrees for about 40 minutes.

You can absolutely do all of that and add it to this recipe with incredible results. Or, you can do what I do and just drop a bunch of peeled cloves in the pot of boiling water along with the potatoes. Cooking the garlic this way brings out a wonderful, nutty flavor, and it’s a heck of a lot easier than roasting.

As you may have noticed from my Mom’s potato salad recipe, I like chunky potatoes. That’s why I prefer to use an old-fashioned hand masher instead of an electric mixer. You’re welcome to opt for a more smooth texture, of course. We’re all free to learn from our mistakes…

So, there you go. A homey, satisfying, rustic mashed potato experience that will prove absolutely perfect as a plate buddy to some juicy pork chops. If you find yourself starting to dress a bit like Daniel Boone as a result of this recipe, you’re welcome!

Mashed Potatoes
Recipe Type: Side
Cuisine: American
Author: Bald Food Dude
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Serves: 8
Leave the skins on these potatoes for a hearty, delicious, buttery dinner side dish.
Ingredients
  • 5 lbs russet potatoes, cut into large chunks with the skin on (red or Yukon Gold potatoes are also excellent, but I was raised on russets)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, peeled (we’re gonna add whole cloves to the water with the potatoes)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Get a big stock pot, and put those rough-cut, rustic, unpeeled potatoes into it. Cover with water and boil the spuds until they are just soft enough to easily jab with a fork (about 30 minutes). When you’ve got about 10 minutes left on the potatoes, drop the peeled cloves of garlic into the boiling water.
  2. As soon as they’re done, drain the potatoes and garlic to keep all that starch from getting an unpleasant, sticky texture.
  3. Add the butter to the pot and let it get all melty. Pour in the heavy cream, salt, and pepper.
  4. Use a potato masher to (duh) mash the potatoes garlic and mix in the butter and cream. Now, you can go for a smooth, creamy consistency…but we like to keep the potatoes a bit chunky. It goes with that whole rustic thing.
  5. Serve with more butter and some chopped fresh chives.

Ginger Beef Stir Fry

Beef Stir Fry

For most of the past two decades I have been a half-hearted vegetarian. There’s definitely a story behind that description…and it started with biting into a particularly gristly piece of meat and realizing that I could be very content going the rest of my days never having that experience again. So, as much as I’d like to say my pseudovegetarianism (is that a word? of course it is…now!) was the result of deeply-held social/environmental convictions, it was really just a matter of squeamishness.

All of that changes, however, when it comes to this ginger beef stir fry.

Meat, vegetables, and seasoning quickly blended together over high heat…stir fry is one of those dishes that is a perfect combination of ease, aroma, flavor, and satisfaction. You can use practically anything you have on hand to concoct your own version (in full disclosure, though, ice cream doesn’t work as well as you might hope), making the customized combination possibilities virtually endless. Cooking the beef with ginger and chilies give this recipe a nice bit of heat without being overpowering.

Now, I am certain this would be a delicious stir fry even if it didn’t have the beef. Should I return to my pseudovegetarian ways I will happily give it a try with some seasoned tofu or strips of tempeh. For right now, however…for this particular moment…let there be beef in the skillet, and let it be delicious.

Amen.

Ginger Beef Stir Fry
Recipe Type: Dinner
Cuisine: Chinese
Author: Based on a recipe by Jamie Oliver
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 30 mins
Serves: 4
This simple stir fry dish is delicious, quick, and insanely satisfying. It is easily adaptable to your taste preference. You can add more chili and ginger to increase the bite, or up the sweetness with a bit more honey.
Ingredients
  • 1 package dried medium egg noodles
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 lb beef, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 thumb-sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1-2 large fresh chili peppers, finely sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and finely sliced
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, seeded and finely sliced
  • 6 green onions, trimmed and sliced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 6 white or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped (save some sprigs for garnish)
  • soy sauce
  • sesame oil
  • honey
  • juice of 1 lime
Instructions
  1. Cook the egg noodles in boiling salted water until just tender. Drain, place in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Heat a large wok or a heavy-based frying pan until very hot. Add a splash of vegetable oil, then stir-fry the beef slices with the garlic, ginger, and chilies until nearly cooked.
  3. Add in all the vegetables, seasoning to taste with soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, and the juice of half a lime. Stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the cooked noodles and toss well over the heat.
  4. Be sure to not overcook!
  5. Plate the stir fry, season with lime juice, and garnish with cilantro.

Cranberry Pecan Salad

Cranberry Pecan SaladIt’s hot in Southern Oregon this week. Over 100 degrees hot. (I know, Arizona…I’m not whining, just commenting.)

That makes it perfect weather for a cool, crisp, delicious salad. I especially love salads that combine several different kinds of textures and flavors. Crisp and smooth…crunchy and soft…sweet and tangy. This salad has it all.

The Curly-Haired Chick and I recently led a cooking program at a local charter school. Each Wednesday, we got together with sixteen elementary school-aged micro-chefs to work on knife skills, kitchen collaboration, and expanding culinary tastes. It was a great experience on many levels, but one of my favorite sessions was when we included this recipe on the menu. Many of the kids had never tasted balsamic vinegar before, and the idea of mixing it with mustard? PLEASE!

We assured the kids that the end result would be tasty, and more than half of them agreed after all was said and done. So, I guess we could say that 10 out of 16 school kids approve of this salad. Considering that it has to go head to head with chicken nuggets on the typical kid menu, I think that’s a pretty good review.

One of my favorite parts of this recipe is the toasted pecans. Adding a little buttery warmth brings out an incredible rich flavor. If you have a penchant for sweetness, toss in a bit of brown sugar as you prepare your pecans.  You could make this salad a main course by adding some grilled chicken, or enjoy it on the side of some incredible brined pork chops. It’s versatile, delicious, and quite attractive-looking. As I said before,  this salad has it all.

Except for a built-in air conditioner. If only it had that…

Cranberry Pecan Salad
Recipe Type: Salad
Author: Bald Food Dude
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 5 mins
Total time: 10 mins
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • Salad:
  • 2 cups romaine, torn into manageable pieces
  • 1 cup dried sweetened cranberries
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup pecans, toasted in butter
  • Dressing:
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Instructions
Salad:
  1. Start by toasting your pecans in a skillet with some butter. It really brings out a wonderful, rich flavor.
  2. Next, rinse your romaine, drying it (we use one of those salad spinner thingys…it’s great!), and tearing it into pieces that could almost fit into your mouth.
  3. Toss the romaine, cranberries, feta and toasted pecans in a large bowl.
Dressing:
  1. Mix balsamic vinegar, honey, dijon mustard and pepper with wire whisk until well blended.
  2. Gradually add oil, whisking constantly until nicely emulsified.
  3. For the photo in this recipe, we kept the dressing on the side…but we recommend you pour your incredible dressing over the salad, tossing it to cover everything with goodness, and serve immediately to people you care about.

The Best Pork Chops You’ll Ever Eat

Pork Chop DinnerWhen I was just a little Bald Food Dude, my mom used to make some amazing pork chops. I remember the incredible aroma in the kitchen as the pan of chops, carrots, potatoes, and sauerkraut bubbled and browned in the oven. Patience was the major challenge our family faced on pork chop nights.

Patience is also a virtue when it comes to this recipe. May I introduce you to the wonders of brining? The extra step of soaking your pork chops in a savory brine adds some time to the process of making dinner (anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours depending on your level of self-control), but it adds even more in the flavor department. These brined, oven-cooked pork chops are tender, juicy, and packed with more delicious zip than a jumbo bag of Funyuns.

Part of the joy of this recipe is having a chance to use your cast iron skillet as a range-top searing and oven-cooking tool. When you lay those brine-soaked chops in the hot iron skillet the combination of sizzle, smoke, and scent is worth the price of admission alone…and you haven’t even TASTED anything yet! It does take some care, however, so you don’t burn the skin off of your hands as you transfer the skillet from oven to range top and back to oven. Great things often have an element of danger, though, right?

Whether you’ve known about brining for years, or you just heard about it a minute or so ago, these incredible pork chops just might be the perfect foundation for some family traditions of your own.

Just be sure to wear an oven mitt.

Pork Chops
Recipe Type: Dinner
Cuisine: Comfort
Author: based on a recipe from thekitchn.com
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Serves: 2
This is probably the best pork chop recipe I’ve ever used. The chops are flavorful, juicy, and undeniably worth the added step of brining.
Ingredients
  • FOR THE BRINE:
  • 3 cups cold water, divided
  • 3 Tablespoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • Fresh rosemary, chopped
  • FOR THE PORK CHOPS:
  • 2 pork chops — center cut, bone-in, 3/4-inch to 1-inch thick
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Instructions
  1. To brine the pork chops bring 1 cup of water to a boil, add the salt, peppercorns, and rosemary, and stir to dissolve the salt. Add 2 more cups of cold water to bring the brine temperature down to room temperature. Put the pork chops in a shallow dish and pour the brine over top. The brine should cover the chops — if not, add additional water and salt (1 cup water to 1 tablespoon salt) until the chops are covered. Cover the dish and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.
  2. When you’re about done brining and ready to start cooking, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400°F. Place a cast iron skillet in the oven to preheat.
  3. Remove the chops from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Rub both sides with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Remove the fiery hot (be careful!) cast iron skillet from the oven and set it over medium-high heat on the stovetop. It’s gonna get a bit smoky, so turn on a vent fan or open a window.
  5. Lay the pork chops in the hot skillet. You should hear them immediately begin to sizzle. Sear until the undersides of the chops are seared golden, 3 minutes. The chops may start to smoke a little — that’s ok. Turn down the heat if it becomes excessive.
  6. Flip the chops and transfer to the oven: Use tongs to flip the pork chops to the other side. Immediately transfer the skillet to the oven using oven mitts.
  7. Roast the chops until cooked through: Roast until the pork chops are cooked through and register 140°F to 145°F in the thickest part of the meat with an instant-read thermometer. Cooking time will be 6 to 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the chops, how cool they were at the start of cooking, and whether they were brined. Start checking the chops at 6 minutes and continue checking every minute or two until the chops are cooked through.
  8. Rest the chops: Transfer the cooked pork chops to a plate and pour any pan juices over the top (or reserve for making a pan sauce or gravy). Tent loosely with foil and let the chops rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.