Monday, June 27, 2011

Infinite Possibilities Pork Chops

One of my favorite "local" restaurants in is Rafferty's Restaurant and Bar.

It was one of the first restaurants I visited when we moved to Knoxville.  I could go on and on about why I like this place (friendly service, excellent food, fun atmosphere, and they cook with real hickory wood) but this post isn't about a restaurant review.  

Nope.  This post is about my interpretation of their hickory grilled pork chops with Six Shooter Cajun Butter that I had on a recent visit there with Alexis.  (Forgive the photo quality.  It was taken with a phone on their deck at night so the odd lighting is from nearby signs.)

Actually, I guess this is really just about the concept of pork chops and compound butter.  It's an inspirational idea for grilling and perfect for the upcoming 4th of July cookouts.  

This idea kicks butt because you can grill a bunch of pork chops all the same way for a crowd of guests.   Then you let them individualize theirs with their choice of some compound butters from a "butter bar" that you made ahead.  And you sit there looking like a grilling rock star!

First, make your compound butters.  Tonight I made two.  One is an attempt at Rafferty's Six Shooter Cajun butter and the other is Apple Pie Butter.  

Almost Rafferty's Six Shooter Cajun Butter
1/2 stick butter, softened
1/4 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp granulated garlic
1/8 tsp onion powder
pinch of celery salt

Mix together thoroughly with a fork.  Scoop into 4 portions with a melon baller or teaspoon.  Freeze for 15 minutes and then keep refrigerated.

Apple Pie Butter
1/2 stick butter, softened
1/4 tsp brown sugar

Mix together thoroughly with a fork.  Scoop into 4 portions with a melon baller or teaspoon.  Freeze for 15 minutes and then keep refrigerated.

Infinite Possibilities Pork Chops
Inspired by Rafferty's Restaurant and Bar

2 ea piggy porterhouse steaks (aka 1" thick bone in pork chops)

Pork Chop Brine
2 cups apple juice
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
enough water to cover the pork chops
Pork chop rub
1 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp tri color pepper, fresh cracked 
3/4 tsp thyme, dried

Brine the pork chops for 4-6 hours in the refrigerator.  

Rinse and dry the pork chops.  Season with the pork chop rub.

Build a fire in your grill and set it up for indirect heat at 250f.  
Option 1:  Big Green Egg - lump coal, 2 hickory wood chunks, plate setter in, legs up
Option 2:  Charcoal grill - Kingsford w/ Hickory, coals banked to the sides of grill with a void in the middle.
Option 3:  Gas grill - Burners on but not under the meat.  Place a foil pack w/ hickory chips over one burner.  [See Patio Daddio for a perfect tutorial on gas grilling with wood smoke]

slow roasting pork chops on the grill
The raised rack over a pan is another way to do indirect heat.

Smoke the pork chops until they reach an internal temperature of about 135f.  This took about one hour at a cooking temp of 250f.  Next time I'd be tempted to go for around 300f to speed it up.  

Now turn the heat on the grill up to 450f.  If your coals have died down, you can add more pre-lit coals.  Grill the chops over direct heat for about a total of 4 minutes, flipping half way through.  You want them to be 140f when you pull them off.  

Now these chops would be a solid dish as is.  Perfectly acceptable and delicious.  

grilled pork chop

But as soon as they come off and while they are ready to rest for 5 minutes, if you add a pat of the Apple Pie Butter....

grilled pork chop with apple pie compound butter

Or the Almost Rafferty's Six Shooter Cajun Butter.....

grilled pork chops with cajun compound butter
NOW you have a flavor party!  When you cut into that pork chop the butter and spices cascade down the meat and covers it with wall to wall "tastes so good".   The silky smooth butter and juicy pork chop just make my mouth do back flips.

These butters are just two possibilities, but as the title implies, the possibilities are infinite.  Play around with the taste combos and find something you like on your own.

Speaking of the upcoming holiday, if you need other inspiration for 4th of July cookouts, check out