In order to make the world's best pork chops, first you're gonna have to make ricotta. Wait, what? Yep. We're going to marinate them in whey, so first you have to separate the curds and the whey. Have you ever had fresh, homemade ricotta? You'll never* buy store-bought again! Make sure you plan ahead, they need a day in the brine.
For 4 servings:
First, make the ricotta:
(makes about 2 cups)
2 quarts + 1 cup whole milk
Generous pinch of kosher salt, or to taste
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice (before you juice one of the lemons, zest it)- plus have a little more “standing by” in case you need more to curdle your milk (acidity level in lemons... and milk can vary)
Handful of chopped herbs (I like thyme, marjoram or oregano—or a mix)
Pour the milk and cream into a large enameled or stainless steel saucepan, add the salt, and hook a thermometer on the side of the pot. Heat the milk to 190-195 degrees. Once it gets to about 180, don’t walk away, because if the milk boils—not only will your cheese taste “cooked”, but it could boil over and make a huge mess.
Once it gets to 190-195 degrees, pull it off heat and add the lemon juice, and stir gently until the mixture has separated into thick curds and a clear liquid (the whey). Let mixture sit for about 15-20 minutes.
Spoon curds into a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl (or a sieve lined with a double layer of cheesecloth). Allow cheese to drain for about 15 minutes. Stir herbs and zest into the cheese. Use the cheese however you'd like: in lasagna, as ricotta gnocchi, or in a salad you serve with pork chops!
Then brine the pork:
The still-warm whey from the ricotta
2 tablespoons pickling spice or mulling spice
a few garlic cloves, smashed with your knife
1 onion, sliced
a few sprigs of herbs-- I like rosemary the best
4 bone-in pork chops
olive oil, for grilling
Mix brine ingredients together, and let whey cool to room temp or cooler. Add pork chops and brine them for 24-36 hours.
The next day, remove the pork from the whey and pat dry.
To grill the pork chops, preheat the grill to medium-high. Grill the chops for five minutes, then flip and grill for another five. Check the internal temperature of the pork, which should be about 145 degrees. If it's not there, keep cooking 2-4 minutes per side until the chops are up to temp. Let the meat rest for about 5-10 minutes. This lets the meat reabsorb its juices, so they don't run right out when you slice them.
*When I say "never" I do mean that on those days when you have a nice chunk of time to make a delicious meal, not say, Wednesday when you have to shuttle back and forth from work, lacrosse practice, piano lessons and scouts. On those days, "store-bought" ricotta will still taste great.