Over the last 30+ years all of the local German butchers have disappeared. Kassler Rippchen, salted and then smoked pork chops, are as a result increasingly difficult to find. So, I am making them myself.
In their book Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking & Curing, Ruhlman and Polcyn note that this style of food preparation has been around since the dawn of time. Smoked Pork Chops have certainly been a staple in our family for a number of generations. But, reflecting on Ruhman’s comment, it suggests this same recipe could have been in use for not just hundreds, but possibly thousands, of years. A different way of conceiving the connection to the past.
The basics of the brine are salt and water. Adding other spices adds to the flavour. I included brown sugar, to offset the saltiness, garlic, bay leaves. Unable to find the prescribed juniper berries, I added a shot of gin. I brought the liquid to a boil so the ingredients mix and the flavours meld. After letting it cool, I’ll drop the meat into the brine and let sit in the refrigerator for a couple of days.