Easy recipe? Check! Using flavorful ingredients that you thought you were going to throw out but have found another use for? Check, check, check!!!
Every time I finish a bottle of some type of condiment kept in a liquid (think pickles, olives, peppers, capers, etc.) I look at that remaining juice with a little sorrow. I know that there is so much flavor there and it seems like such a waste to just dump it. Whenever I can, I will use some of that liquid in recipes as a flavor boost, but often there’s still more leftover.
Since we have our own Kalamata Olive tree, I make a lot of brined olives each year, and therefore have a lot of olive brine left over, too. At first I would sadly empty the jars of the liquid down the drain. The concentration of salt and vinegar won’t be high enough to safely use the brine again for more olives, and the liquid can’t be used in the garden due to the salt, so there’s nowhere else to use it. Or is there???
Finally, the realization came to me that what I had WAS A BRINE! And, duh, people brine meats all the time using liquids with salt and acid like lemon juice and … vinegar. So why shouldn’t a brine used for olives work as a brine for meat? It should. And it did.
Kalamata Olive Brined Pork Chops Recipe
I completely understand that you may not have a jar of saved up olive brine just waiting in your refrigerator. However, you now have a recipe that you can use when you do have it!
Place pork chops in a pan deep enough for them to be submerged under the olive brine. Pour enough brine over them for them to just be covered. Sprinkle your desired amount of oregano and minced garlic over them and push them down into the pork chops with the back of a spoon. You will not need to add any salt for seasoning since there will be plenty in the brine, but you could add pepper if you like. Cover and set aside where it will be undisturbed.
Allow the pork chops to marinade in the brine for at least 3-4 hours, but no more than 10-12. Remove the chops from the brine and baste them with olive oil on all sides. Now you really do need to dump the brine.
Cook the chops by your preferred method. I like to cook them on the grill until done, but you can also broil them, bake them in the oven at 400 F, or even pan fry them. The amount of time it will take for them to be done will depend on the cooking method and the thickness of the meat. In the US, the USDA cooking guidelines for pork are the same as for beef so it is okay for them to be a little pink on the inside if you prefer. Enjoy!