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Vanilla Brined Pork Chops

In Brining, Main Course, Meat, Pork, Recipe, Star Anise, Vanilla
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With grilling season in full swing, I wanted to toss out a quick-brine, dry rub combo to keep you and your grill on your toes.  This dish was inspired by a recipe I saw recently in Fine Cooking magazine, and with just a few tweaks to the brine and rub, we've come up with a dish that we've made twice already in the last few weeks.

The brine lends moistness and just enough seasoning to make the meat taste delicious throughout.  The vanilla adds an unexpected and subtle sweetness that plays well with the dry rub, I know it may sound strange, but DO add it to the brine if you have some laying about.  Then challenge your guests to figure out what "special" ingredient is used to flavor the chops, I bet they'll never guess its vanilla.

For me there is hardly a finer piece of meat on the planet that a nice thick bone-in pork rib chop, especially if you can find one from a sustainably raised heritage breed.  I scored some nice 1 1/4" ones that we had the other night with a simple smashed sweet potato side and a green salad, they were perfection.

Enjoy! - Steve


Vanilla Brined Pork Chops with Hot-Sweet Rub

by: Steve Dunn

(Print Friendly Recipe)



For the Brine:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 star anise, broken into pieces


For the Spice Rub:

  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon pimenton
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme



  1. Combine all of the brine ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved.
  2. Place the pork chops in a baking dish or gallon sized ziplok pouch (this is what I used), add the brine to the bag and refrigerate for 4-6 hours.
  3. Combine all the dry rub ingredients in a bowl and reserve.
  4. Remove the chops from the brine and dry them well, sprinkle each chop liberally on both sides with the dry rub, and let rest for a few minutes at room temperature while you heat your grill to medium-high heat.
  5. Depending on the thickness of your chops (and the strength of your grill), cook them for 4-6 minutes per side (even longer for VERY thick chops) till just cooked through.
  6. Let rest on a cutting board, tented with foil for about 5 minutes before serving.


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"Oui, Chef" exists as an extension of my efforts to teach my kids a few things about cooking, and how their food choices over time effect not only their own health, but that of our local food communities and our planet at large. By sharing some of our cooking experiences, I hope to inspire other families to start spending more time together in the kitchen, passing on established familial food traditions, and starting some new ones. Read more...
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