This Cuban Mojo Brined Grilled Pork Chops recipe is delicious. I don’t remember where I first saw it but I’ve liked it ever since and tweaked it a bit. Mojo is a sauce or marinade from Cuba and these chops bring a bit of that Cuba flair and personality to your pork chops. Mojo usually has sour oranges as a key part of the flavor. Real sour oranges are rarely available in most places in the US, but you can substitute regular oranges and lime for tartness.
As you probably know, I love bringing pork. The salt and other flavors really bring out the best of the pork and keep the meat juicy. The brining in this grilled pork chops recipe also adds the sour orange flavors which are accented later by a delicious spice rub that is put on just before grilling. Serve these delicious grilled pork chops along with other Cuban specialties such as garlicky rice & beans and maduros (sweet sautéed plantains).
- 1/4 cup sea salt or kosher salt
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 4 cups water
- Juice and coarsely chopped peels of 2 oranges and 1 lime: alternatively you can use sour oranges if they are available
- 4 bone-in pork chops: try to get nice big, thick ones from quality pork
- 2 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes: or more if you like it spicier
Brined Grilled Pork Chops Recipe Instructions
- Heat the water in a pot to just boiling and stir in the brown sugar and salt to dissolve. Take off the heat and stir in the juice and peels of the oranges and lime. Let sit until cooled and then chill in the refrigerator. When fully cooled to room temperature or below, add the pork chops. You want the chops to be completely submerged in the brine so you can either weight them down with a plate or you can transfer the entire mixture into a ziploc bag and seal without any addition air in the bag.
- Let the chops brine for several hours. I believe the original recipe I was inspired by said to brine them for only a couple hours but in my opinion that is far too few to really let the brine do its magic. For nice thick pork chops I routinely brine them overnight and feel that is perfect.
- The next day, remove the chops from the brine and pat them dry with paper towels. Let the chops sit on a plate in the fridge uncovered for at least an hour and up to 6 hours. What I usually do is brine them overnight, take them out to sit in the late morning or early afternoon, and then cook them that night.
- About an hour before you plan to cook them, take them out of the fridge and let them warm up to room temperature. In the meantime, get your grill started up to about a medium-high temperature, about 400-450 degrees. Depending on your grill you can set up for either direct heat or indirect heat, as long as the direct heat isn’t so hot that it will burn the chops too fast while they cook.
- Prepare the spice rub by combining the paprika, oregano, cumin and pepper flakes, stirring to combine.
- Rub the spice mix on all surfaces of the meat and press it in so that it thickly coats the chops.
- Grill the chops until done to your liking, about 145 degrees of internal temperature at their thickest point. This should take about 3 – 5 minutes per side but this will depend on your grill and the thickness of the chops. In any case, you do want a nice dark crusty caramelization but obviously should flip them if they are starting to burn.
That’s it! Serve up this grilled pork chops recipe alongside anything you like. But as I said earlier, this has a very Cuban flavor and goes great with other Cuban classics like Maduros and black beans and rice. The beans can be simply cooked in their own liquid with minced garlic, cumin, a bit of cayenne and salt or chicken stock to taste.