Pork brine isn’t as common as a poultry brine–and you’ll be surprised at what you’re missing. This version from Thomas Keller is full of garlic, rosemary, thyme, and honey, and will take that sweet piggy over the top.
It’s almost always a good idea to brine pork. Brining makes it flavorful and keeps it juicy. This particular recipe is distinguished by its use of garlic and rosemary, but you can flavor it with almost anything. The amount of brine below is ideal for up to 4 pounds of pork.–Thomas Keller
LC Just Do As The Man Says Note
It may seem sorta silly to heat the brine for just a minute, as the recipe below stipulates, but chef Thomas Keller knows what he’s doing. Not only does the heat facilitate the dissolving of the salt and honey, it draws out the essential oils of the herbs, which, in turn, equates to flavor. Lots of flavor. And not flavor in an overwhelming way. Just in a nicely complementary way. You know how back in the day when gentlemen would walk down the street and, when they encountered an acquaintance, they’d offer one another a slight head bow and lift of the hat as they said “Good day”? That’s how nicely and politely the flavors play with one another. Anyways, we diverge. Just do as the man says.
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
- 12 bay leaves
- 3 large rosemary sprigs
- 1/2 bunch thyme
- 1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup garlic cloves crushed, skin left on
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 1 cup kosher salt preferably Diamond Crystal
- 8 cups water
- Combine all of the ingredients in a large pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Heat for 1 minute, stirring to dissolve the salt.
- Remove from the heat and cool completely. Chill before using.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I regularly brine pork and enjoy experimenting with different brine flavors. As the salt content of this was a touch high, I brined two pork tenderloins for six hours and discovered upon cooking that any longer would have been too long. At that point, they were perfectly seasoned, but from experience, I know how brines act. Most brines I make contain white or brown sugar or maple syrup, but this one contains honey as well as a lot of garlic, fresh herbs (including rosemary) and peppercorns. I served the pork with an apricot glaze that married nicely with the brine (tasting the pork both with the glaze and without). The brine announced itself loud and clear. It would be tasty with chicken parts, too.
Originally published April 16, 2010