Ham-Brined Pork Chops


To make his pork chops extra-juicy and give them a perfect caramelized crust, Underbelly chef Chris Shepherd lets them sit overnight in a honey-spiked brine inspired by the flavors of a Southern ham. Before adding your pork chops to the skillet, make sure they’re thoroughly patted dry to avoid any oil splatters. Pair them with a California Pinot Noir: “The chops have a sweet-salty flavor that is really exciting with the Pinot’s bright acidity,” says Matthew Pridgen, Underbelly’s wine director. Slideshow: More Pork Chop Recipes 

Ham-Brined Pork Chops
Photo: © Abby Hocking
Active Time:
50 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 10 mins


  • 4 cups warm water

  • 1/2 cup honey

  • 1/3 cup kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

  • 1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns

  • 1/2 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds

  • Four 12-ounce bone-in pork rib chops (1 inch thick)

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes

  • 4 medium shallots, halved

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • Pepper

  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons canola oil

  • 1/2 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed

  • 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced

  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley

  • 2 tablespoons minced chives


  1. In a large bowl, whisk the warm water with the honey, 1/3 cup of salt, the peppercorns and mustard seeds until the honey and salt are dissolved; let cool completely. Add the pork chops to the brine, cover and refrigerate overnight. Bring to room temperature in the brine 30 minutes before cooking.

  2. Preheat the oven to 400°. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the tomatoes with the shallots and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 15 minutes, until the tomatoes start to wrinkle and the shallots are tender and lightly browned. Let cool completely. Increase the oven temperature to 425°.

  3. In a large bowl, whisk the vinegar with 2 tablespoons of the canola oil and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper. Prepare an ice bath. In a medium saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the snap peas until crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Drain and transfer to the ice bath. Once the snap peas are cool, drain well, pat dry and transfer to the bowl with the vinaigrette. Gently fold in the tomatoes, shallots, onion, parsley and chives and season with salt.

  4. Remove the pork chops from the brine and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels; discard the brine. Heat a large cast-iron skillet, then add the remaining ½ tablespoon of canola oil. Cook 2 pork chops over moderate heat, turning once, until browned, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining 2 pork chops. Drain off any excess fat from the skillet. Return the pork chops to the skillet and roast in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 135°. Transfer the pork chops to a work surface and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with the snap pea salad.

Make Ahead

The peppercorn sauce can be refrigerated overnight and reheated gently before serving.

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