Main course

The best pork chop you’ll ever have…

Yes, I know I’ve made a pretty big claim. But I’m pretty convinced I can win you over.  Well, thats unless you’ve had a pork chop from, say, Thomas Keller, where he performed some type of laborious sous vide technique and then perhaps bathed the whole thing in butter. Even so, I still think this pork chop would be pretty tough competition!


(one of the photos in question)
About a month ago I wrote a post on a similar pork chop recipe, but I decided to redo it for 2 reasons. First I only had 2 grainy photographs taken in really low lighting.  I had made this dish and photographed it months back, before I started this blog. So I wasn’t prepared to show a step by step process in photos.  And second, I made this pork chop 2 days ago and after a few changes, tweaks and improvements to the recipe, I wanted to fill you in.  I added a rub that was just so delicious, the sauce was almost unnecesary.  But  I can’t help myself, I love sauces!! So one of my favorites is included below as well.

So here are my rules for the perfect pork chop:

1. Buy an extra thick 2 inch pork chop, on the bone. If your butchers has one, get a porterhouse chop, this has the tenderloin on one side of the bone and the traditional pork chop on the other. So delicious!!
porterhouse

2. Grill your pork porterhouse until the thickest part reaches 145 degrees or medium-well. This is a totally safe temperature to cook your pork. If you don’t have a good digital meat thermometer, gently pierce it with a knife in the thickest part of the chop towards the end of the cooking time. You should still see a bit of rosy pink in the center.

3.  Use wood chips in your grill.  The smokiness the wood chips add to the pork, make the crispy fatty edges of the chop taste like bacon. yum.

These three steps in themselves will give you a tender piece of pork, but if you want to take it to that next level of deliciousness…

3. Brine it for 6-24 hours. Brining adds moisture to your meat, and it also imparts the flavor of whatever aromatics you put in the brine.  Even if you overcook your meat a little, it will still turn out juicy.

But you know what… as much as I love to brine, I usually just do it for special occasions and not for my everyday dinners. Its just too much work for me, and I bet most of you agree with me. On a day to day basis, my food motto is keep it simple, or, uh, simpler (cause sometimes I just get carried away, and can’t quite do simple). So just to give you another quick option, try this incredible spice rub that I made a few nights ago.  Oh it was good!
pork rub

So here is my recipe for an incredible pork chop.  I’ve included a recipe for the brine, the rub, and one of my favorite sauces: Romesco.

For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of trying romesco before, its a delicious and unique sauce that originates from the Catalan region of Spain. Its really like nothing you’ve ever tasted.  The smokey, nutty, spicy flavors taste delicious spread on toast or with grilled vegetables, fish, seafood, poultry, pork, well just about anything! It has the consistency of pesto, and best of all it can keep in your fridge for up to two weeks, so you can experiment again and again.

Brined Pork Porterhouse Chops with 5 Spice Garlic rub and Romesco sauce

Start by preheating your gas grill on high or lighting the coals for your charcoal bbq. Soak your wood chips in water.

brine

To make the brine…

In a medium/large pot, add crushed juniper berries, crumbled bay leaves, red pepper flakes, salt and sugar to a cup of water.  Bring to a simmer and then let stoop for 10 minutes.  Add the remaining  4 cups cold water, onion and crushed garlic. Add pork chops and refrigerate for 24 hours. If I have less time (say 6 hours), I’ve made the solution more concentrated by adding another 3 Tb salt and another 4 Tb sugar.

Next, once your meat has run its full course in the brine.  Rinse it off, and pat dry.

So on to the rub…

rub on chop

These spices are incredible on pork.  It has spanish smoked paprika, which I’m kinda obsessed with; think of bacon in a spice… that’s what it reminds me of! The cinnamon, cardamom, coriander and black pepper, just give it this sweet yet savory flavor. I looooove it! And honestly people, I know we’re still getting to know each other here, but I don’t say this about just anything. I’m a selective lover, so to say.

garlic spice thyme
Next you’re going to crush 3 cloves of garlic to a paste. Using my microplane for this makes it so easy; it grates the garlic with such little effort. Chop a few sprigs of thyme. Fresh or dried rosemary would also be wonderful. Now drizzle the chop with a little bit of olive oil, and rub it all over with the thyme and garlic.

I’ve used this rub on lamb and chicken as well, and its excellent. You can add 1 tsp or so of cumin if you like. It works well with these spices.

Back to the Pork chop…

Let it sit for 20 minutes or so if you’re going to grill it right away, or you can wrap it in saran wrap and chill if for up to a day in the fridge.  Just make sure you let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before you grill it.  This helps the pork chop cook more evenly.



Place your soaked wood chips in a metal dish or wood chip holder (pictured)on your grill grates. I always sprinkle a big handful on the coals as well. If you’re using a gas grill, you can place the metal dish under the grill grates by the flame. Then, on high heat, grill your pork chops on each side for 5 minutes, or until you get really nice grill marks. Turn off the burners on one side of your grill, and move the chops over to that side. You want to cook the chops over indirect heat, so that they cook evenly and don’t dry out. Grill for another 15-20 minutes depending on the interior temperature of your grill. Keep the lid closed.

*If you’re using your stovetop, heat a skillet (cast iron prefered) on high for a few minutes. Add a little olive oil and sear on both sides for 2 minutes. Sear the fatty edges as well until they start to crisp up. In a preheated 350 degree oven, roast the chops for another 25 minutes or so. This is for a 2-inch pork chop, if your pork chop is thinner, adjust the cooking time.

Remove the chops from the grill, or oven, when the temperature in the thickest part reads 145 degrees, or if you poke it with a knife, when the  thickest part is still a bit pink.  Let them rest on a plate or cutting board, covered loosely with foil for 5-10 minutes.  This helps the meat reabsorb the juices, so when you cut into it the juices don’t all run out.

For the Romesco

fried bun

Fry 2 slices of country white bread in 1/4 c olive oil.  Once browned, remove crusts and break into chunks.  I was out of bread, so I had some hamburger buns in the freezer and just used those… improvisation is 50% of what happens in my kitchen.


add the crushed garlic and fresh thyme to the hot pan. Add a little more oil if needed. Saute for 1 minute.



Soak the chilies in 2 cups of near boiling water for 10 minutes until soft. Remove and cut off stems, remove seeds and pat dry.


Meanwhile, toast almonds and hazelnuts on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees, for 4-6 minutes or until fragrant. Place the hazelnuts in a kitchen towel, and roll them around to rub off the bitter hazelnut skins.


Cut up 1 whole ripe tomato, you only need about 1/2 a cup.


Crush with your hands to break them up and help release some of their juices.


Add the chilies and the canned tomatoes to the sauteed garlic and thyme. Cook on medium until most of the juices have evaporated, 4-5 minutes. Add a little salt to season.



In the food processor, add the nuts and bread chunks, and pulse until finely chopped.


Add tomato-chili mixture and pulse several times, then blend on high until mixture is smooth.


Add 1 cup of olive oil in a slow stream. Don’t worry if the mixture separates from the oil, its kinda like a pesto.



Transfer to a bowl, and add chopped parsely, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika (I could write a whole post on smoked paprika,
don’t substitute with regular paprika, its totally different) and a few drops of lemon to season as desired. Smother the pork chops with the sauce. Enjoy!

Ingredients

4 2-inch thick bone-in Pork Chops ~ if you can get Pork porterhouse chops even better.
Brine: (from Suzanne Goin)
1 tablespoon crushed Juniper berries
3 bay leaves, crumbled
1 tsp red chili flakes
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic
6 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons Kosher salt
5 cups water

5 Spice Rub with Garlic and Thyme
1 Tbsp + 1/2 tsp smoke paprika
1 Tbsp + 1/2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
2 tsp ground black pepper
9 cloves garlic, smashed to a paste
2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 2 tsp dried

Romesco Sauce (from Suzanne Goin)
1/2 ounce raw almonds (about 12 nuts)
1 ounce hazelnuts (about 32 nuts)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 cup
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 ounces (about 1 thick slice or so) thick slice chewy white peasant style bread, crusts cut off
5 ancho or pasilla chiles, stems and seeds removed
1/2 cup canned peeled whole tomatoes, crushed in a large bowl with your hands
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
juice of half a lemon

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