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


  1. Looks wonderful, as always. I love the versatility of compound butters.

  2. I love the idea of the Apple Pie Butter...nothing goes better with pork than apple and brown sugar! Very nice write up! One thing I might add is to caramelize some vadallia onion, chop it up and add it to your apple pie butter...and maybe some cinnamon/nutmeg.
    I am gong to make this butter very soon:)

  3. @Firehead Thomas: Sounds great! What would you add to a spicy compound butter with habanero for pork chops? Maybe something milder like anaheim and then some transition herbs and sugars?

  4. You are a hero. Not only do you brine your chops, but you trust the lower temperature is adequate for them to be done. And it is! Bravo to you.

  5. Nobody makes those nice dark grill marks quite like you, Chris.

  6. Every time I try to make those big fat bone in pork chops they turn out dry and odd. I even did a 6 hour brine a few weeks ago with the same result. Must be a slow cooking method that helps the texture. I love your pig cutting board and love the thought of that apple butter on a pork chop. Sounds like a great combination.

  7. Ooo I can see myself doing a lot with these compound butters. Especially that cajun one...the possibilities are endless!

  8. First off, yours look SO much better then the restaurant ones do... I know it might be the lighting, but you could at least give them a run for their money! That is a beautiful piece of pork Chris!
    Gonna definitely have to brine my pork in apple juice next time...Love that idea!

  9. I'm intrigued by the possibilites here. I could wok-smoke my chops and then finish them on my stove top grill. I don't have an outdoor grill. And I have an electronic thermometer to help monitor their progress. Hmmm, think I've got a plan.

  10. I am so on this one! Chris you inspire me :) This will be on my grill for Sunday or Monday...

  11. A BUTTER BAR!!!

    I am in awe at the concept

    Aside from the butter bar (is there a franchise restaurant in this idea???) concept, great post for the ideas and suggestions.

  12. For some really strange reason I like to read all this, even if I will never make it & cannot eat it...looks wonderful though. ~Mary

  13. oh yes, I love the idea of this. I normally just put in some rosemary to butter but this is so much better.

  14. Chris - I was just thinking about making compound butters with all the fresh herbs I'm harvesting. Fantastic idea. Plus, I have to admit that I love the name "infinite possibilites pork chops."

    By the way, my Mom and I love Rafferty's. I think their food is a much better quality than other restaurants. We're always impressed when we go there.

    Also, I wanted to tell you that I received my Bush's Beans goodies a week or so ago and was so happy with it! Thanks so much for hosting the giveaway.

  15. This looks delicious, Chris. I love compound butters, and have been using your APL technique and compound butter whenever I grill steak. I can't wait to try both of these compound butters! Thanks for sharing!

    Kim in MD

  16. A Butter Bar?!? OMGosh! That would be an answer to prayer! As are these chops!

  17. I am a recent convert to brining. That is a very important step in my book.

  18. I have done compound butter with steak, but pork makes so much more sense. GREG

  19. You're the master in pork chops! Mmmm I want all of them..and I need to workout later for weeks LOL



  20. Oh my both of those butters look divine. And I love a thick juicy grilled pork chop. Ha and I love your pig cutting board :)

  21. Pure sin, Mister, and I LOVE it! Apple pie butter sounds insanely good.


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