Friday, July 10, 2009

Porkus Chopus Maximus

I hated grilled pork chops as a kid. They were always dried out, thin little things that somebody had brutalized over a pile of lighter fluid soaked briquettes. So I never wanted to grill them myself (this was back before I knew how to really grill and smoke) because I thought that was just the nature of a grilled pork chop.

Then in 2001 while assisting with an overnight whole hog roast, a neighbor made some pork chops for a midnight snack. He simply rubbed them with salt and pepper, grilled them and served them up on two pieces of white bread as a "pork chop sandwich" (bone in). Man oh man were those things good!!!!

I made up a nice batch of pork chops earlier this week. To me, these rival a good steak. Here are a few tips I've picked up for making great chops:

Go Big or Go HomeIf you REALLY want a REALLY good chop, then you have to start with a great cut of meat. Get a nice 1 1/2" to 2" thick, bone in pork chop. Look for one that is lean with fat around the edges like the one above. It's not going to be cheap but it will be worth it.

BrineTo help ensure juiciness and flavor, brine the pork chops in a brine with apple juice for about 3-4 hours. The one I have used for about 3 years with good results is:
2 cups apple juice
2 cups water
3/4 cup turbinado sugar
1/4 cup coarse kosher salt (sorry Scott, I haven't gotten gray salt yet :) )

Dry RubAfter brining, rinse the chops off and dry them. Give the chops a nice coating of rub and let them sit while you start the fire. Plain salt and pepper work just fine.

This week, I used a pork rub that I made following the section in Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book on creating your own dry rub. It worked well with these chops.
1/4 c white sugar
1/4 c turninado sugar
1/4 c smoked paprika
2 T garlic salt
2 T kosher salt
1 t black pepper, smoked
1 t cayenne pepper
1 t cumin
1/4 t allspice
1/2 t dried thyme

High Temp SearSear the chops over a very hot bed of coals or fire. I do this over a 500-600f degree direct set up on the Big Green Egg for a total of 6 minutes, flipping every 90 seconds. This gives nice grill marks and the maillard reaction that make it look and taste good.

RoastAfter the sear, cut your heat back to about 400-450 and change to indirect heat. Let the pork chops roast to an internal temp of 145 internal, then remove them from heat to rest for 10 minutes. Don't panic you won't get a raw in the middle pork chop. You'll get a perfectly done, juicy, white meat all the way through pork chop.
And man oh man were those things good!!!!

And on that note, I'm out of here. Headed to Cades Cove to do some dutch oven cooking with my mom at their camp site.