Herb Brined and Crusted Thick Cut Pork Chops get a double dose of herbs, in the brine and in the crust, for the most delicious pork you’ve ever eaten!
Thick pork chops are something I always longingly looked at in the butcher’s display but would pass them up in favor of a thinner cook. I had tried a couple of times, both total failures. But now they are my favorite cut and I can teach you how to make them perfectly too!
Here is a trifecta of tips that will help you cook any cut of pork and have it turn out moist and tender every single time!
1) Temperature: 145°F is the magic number for pork and it is OK to have a light pinkness in the center of the meat. We no longer have to cook it to death to be safe. Bacteria is killed at 140°F, so there is no danger of getting sick. Cooking it to the lower temperature also makes the meat much more tender and moist. It’s a win all the way around.
2) Boneless or bone-in, that is the question: Both are delicious, but I prefer bone-in. The bone insulates the meat giving you a little wiggle room on cooking time and making it harder to overcook. These days pork has been bred to take nearly all the fat out of it, reducing the flavor and making it more challenging to keep moist while cooking. If you can find it, buy heritage breeds and you’ll know why people love pork!
3a) Brining: Because there is so little fat and marbling in today’s pork, brining (either wet or dry) is a big help for protecting the meat from drying out. Dry brining uses salt to draw seasoning deep into the center of the meat and takes a day or two in the refrigerator. Wet brining is a shorter process, only taking 30 minutes or up to 4 hours if you have the time.
3b) Both brining methods work and have different outcomes. Dry brining, when given the time, dries out the surface so you get much better browning. And when you’re talking about an enormous turkey for Thanksgiving, not having to wrestle the slippery bird and a huge bucket of seasoned water is a true blessing.
3c) But when you are talking about smaller cuts of meat such as pork tenderloins, chops, and small roasts, a wet brine is a good choice. Wet brining can not only protect the meat but also gives you the opportunity to add tremendous flavor to your main course.
Today’s Herb Brined and Crusted Thick Cut Pork Chops recipe is a double whammy of herbs – first in the brine to infuse the center of the meat as well as keeping the chops from drying out. Secondly, an herb and breadcrumb crust that further insulates the meat and adds the most delectable crunchy coating packed with flavor.
In today’s recipe I used a combination – the garlic and Italian seasoning in the liquid brine helping carry their flavor into the center of the meat. And then I used chives and parsley in the breadcrumb mixture along with a touch of Parmesan cheese and grated orange zest to pep up the crust, making it delicious enough to eat all on its own!
For gluten-free, be sure to use gluten-free bread to make the breadcrumbs. Or you can use dried gluten-free crumbs if you can’t find the bread or don’t have a food processor and don’t want to cut up the bread.
I served these pork chops with a white and wild rice pilaf studded with dried cranberries and almonds, a zucchini sauté, and orange slices for garnishing, which made a beautiful dinner.
I hope you enjoy this delightful meal as much as we did. Have a fabulous weekend!
How to make Herb Brined and Crusted Thick Cut Pork Chops
- Brine the chops in herbed liquid
- Make the breadcrumb crust and apply to chops
- Brown both sides of chops in an ovenproof skillet
- Transfer skillet to oven and bake chops to 142°F to 145°F
- Move chops to serving plates and garnish with orange slices
For the cooking times, I’ve given you guidelines, but you need to use an instant read thermometer to know for sure when the chops are done. One of my chops was much thicker than the other and took extra time to finish cooking. Without the thermometer I would have either over-cooked one or under-cooked the other. This way I took the smaller one out of the pan when it was done and kept it warm while the second one finished cooking.
How to Make Fresh Breadcrumbs
Breadcrumbs made from fresh bread are easy to make, especially if you have a food processor. Just drop torn bread into the processor and pulse a few times to break them up. If you don’t have a food processor, use a knife to chop the bread as finely as you can. Add the seasoning and you’re ready to coat the chops. The fresh crumbs will compact when you press them onto the chops.
Key Ingredients for this Recipe
- Kosher salt
- Brown sugar
- Italian seasoning
- Orange peel
- Pork chops, preferably thick, bone-in
- Breadcrumbs (GF if needed)
- Mustard or mayonnaise
Kitchen Tools I Use to Make This Recipe
- Medium bowl
- Food processor
- Pie plate or shallow au gratin dish
- Wire rack
- Instant read thermometer
- Large ovenproof skillet
Other Pork Recipes You May Enjoy:
- Slow Cooked Cuban Pulled Pork Sliders (GF)
- Show Stopper Grilled Crown Pork Roast (GF)
- Smothered Pork Chops with Apple-Onion Sauce (GF)
- Succulent Pork Carnitas with Tomatillo Salsa (GF)
- Instant Pot Green Chile Pork Tacos (GF)
Use your favorite gluten-free bread to make the breadcrumbs. All Gourmet Garden seasonings are gluten-free!
- 4 cups water, divided
- 4 tbsp kosher salt (or 2 tbsp table salt)
- 3 tbsp firmly packed brown sugar
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
- 1-inch wide strip of orange peel
Pork Chops and Herb Crust
- 4 thick cut (1-inch or thicker) bone-in pork chops
- 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (use gluten-free if needed)
- 2 tbsp minced parsley
- 2 tbsp minced chives
- 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp freshly grated orange zest
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Prepared mustard or mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- Orange slices, for garnishing
Make the Brine: Pour 2 cups of hot tap water in a large resealable plastic bag or bowl. Add the salt and sugar stirring to dissolve. Add the remaining 2 cups of cold water. Whisk in the garlic, Italian seasoning, and pepper. If using the plastic bag for brining, add the chops to the bag, seal, set the bag on a baking sheet or into a bowl and refrigerate. If using a container (just big enough to hold the chops in a flat layer), place the chops in a single layer and pour the brine over them. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.
Prepare the Herb Crust: While the chops are brining, make the herb crust. In a medium bowl combine the breadcrumbs, parsley, chives, Parmesan, and pepper. Mix together until evenly blended. Pour the seasoned crumbs onto a shallow pie pan or plate.
After brining, remove the chops from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Lightly smear both sides with either the mustard or mayonnaise and dredge in the seasoned breadcrumb mixture, pressing to be sure they adhere. Set on a wire rack set over a baking sheet to rest for about 10 minutes. This helps the crust stay on the chops.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Cook the Pork Chops: Heat the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium high heat. When it is shimmering, add the chops being careful not to knock the crust off. Cook until the bottom is browned, about 2 minutes. Use tongs to carefully flip the chops over and cook another 2 minutes or until the second side is browned.
Slide the skillet into the hot oven and bake for 5 to 15 minutes* or until an instant read thermometer inserted in the center registers 142°F to 145°F. Remove from the skillet and let rest about 5 minutes before serving. Garnish the plate with orange slices and serve.
* Note, the cooking time will depend on the thickness of the chops and whether they are bone-in (takes a little longer) or boneless. Use an instant read thermometer and you'll know
when they are perfectly done.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 546 Total Fat: 26g Saturated Fat: 7g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 15g Cholesterol: 135mg Sodium: 7355mg Carbohydrates: 31g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 10g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 45g
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First Published: Dec 12, 2015
Last Updated: Sept 6, 2019