For the brine:
- 1/2 cup salt, or to taste
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons fennel seed
- 2 tablespoons coriander seed
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 ribs celery, diced
- 4 cloves garlic smashed
- 1 1/2 quarts cold water
- 4 bone- in pork rib chops
- 1 tablespoon wild fennel pollen*
- Soft Parmigiano Polenta, recipe follows
To make the brine: In a large container, add all of the ingredients and stir to combine. Submerse the pork chops in the brine and refrigerate for 3 days. After 3 days remove the chops from the brine, discarding the brine.
Preheat a grill or grill pan. Roll the fat edge of each pork chop with the fennel pollen. Place porks chop gently on the preheated grill or grill pan. After 3 to 4 minutes rotate the chops 90 degrees to create lovely grill marks. Grill the chops for another 3 to 4 minutes and then turn over and repeat the process. If the chops seem to be burning move the chops to a cooler part of the grill to allow for longer cooking time without burning. Stand the chops up so the fat edge is in contact with the grill to crisp up the fat edge, this will also make the fennel pollen very aromatic. Remove the chops from the grill and let rest in a warm place before serving. The doneness of the meat should be about medium to medium well and very juicy. Serve with polenta.
This is DEFINITEY a plan ahead recipe as the pork chops need to brine for 3 days.
*If fennel pollen is not available, toasted ground fennel seeds are an acceptable substitution
Soft Parmigiano Polenta:
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup long cooking polenta
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano
- 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
In a medium size saucepan, bring the milk, water and bay leaf to a boil. Season generously with salt, almost to the point of over seasoning. How do you know that you are there? TASTE IT! When it has reached a boil, slowly whisk in the polenta in small sprinkles. Once all of the polenta has been incorporated, reduce heat to medium and immediately switch over to stirring with a wooden spoon. Cook the polenta for 30 to 40 minutes, adding water if the polenta becomes too thick to loosen it up.
When the polenta is thoroughly cooked, it should look creamy and not feel gritty on your tongue. Remove it from the heat and stir in the Parmigiano and mascarpone. Serve it immediately, or place a sheet of plastic wrap right on the surface of the polenta to prevent a skin from forming on the top.
To reheat: Add a little water to the polenta and heat over low to medium heat stirring constantly to prevent burning.