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Fennel-Brined Pork Chops

Becky Luigart-Stayner; Jan Gautro
Yield 4 servings (serving size: 1 chop)
These chops are best made with both fennel seeds and fresh fennel fronds (the flowery tips of fennel). If you can't find fresh fennel, substitute two additional tablespoons of fennel seeds for the fronds. Serve with a mixed green salad.


  • 3 1/2 cups water, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped fennel fronds
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sambuca or other anise-flavored liqueur
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 4 (4-ounce) boneless center-cut loin pork chops (about 3/4 inch thick)
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Nutrition Information

  • calories 174
  • caloriesfromfat 34 %
  • fat 6.5 g
  • satfat 2.4 g
  • monofat 2.9 g
  • polyfat 0.5 g
  • protein 24.1 g
  • carbohydrate 3 g
  • fiber 0.3 g
  • cholesterol 65 mg
  • iron 0.9 mg
  • sodium 469 mg
  • calcium 34 mg

How to Make It

  1. Combine 1 cup water, fronds, and seeds in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; remove from heat. Pour into a large bowl; cool to room temperature. Add remaining 2 1/2 cups water, salt, sugar, and liqueur, stirring until salt and sugar dissolve. Pour salt mixture into a large zip-top plastic bag. Add ice and pork; seal. Refrigerate 4 hours, turning bag occasionally.

  2. Prepare grill to high heat.

  3. Remove pork from bag; discard brine. Pat pork dry with paper towels. Coat pork with cooking spray. Combine the rosemary, pepper, and garlic; rub evenly over both sides of pork. Place pork on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes on each side or until done. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.