Friday, August 3, 2012

Grilled Pork Chops with Honey Glazed Cippolini

This was a meal worth serving to company.  (A quick break from the Sustainable Pork Tour 2012 series while I work on the third and final post.)

Big Green Egg pork chop recipe, kamado grill pork chop recipe, gourmet grilled pork chop

We made Chef John's creamed spinach (Food Wishes), a version of Jaden's "Very Best" mashed potatoes (Steamy Kitchen), and thick grilled pork chops with honey glazed cippolini. The meal was fabulous and this pork chop recipe is going into my signature dish file.

I think that a properly grilled, extra thick pork chop is as good as a steak.  The only difficulty with extra thick steaks is cooking them all the way through without overcooking the parts near the outside.  The trick is to get the entire chop to an even temperature before grilling it over high heat and there are a few ways to do that, including sous vide, reverse sear, and my weapon of choice for this dish - the "hot tub method".

The hot tub method is submerging the pork chop in hot water for about an hour until the whole cut is an even 105f.   Then you can grill the thick chop to safe internal temperatures without scorching the edges.  The result is a tender, juicy, and evenly cooked chop.

Grilled Pork Chops with Honey Glazed Cippolini
source:  Cippolini recipe adapted from Ciao! Tuscany

  • 2 bone in pork loin chops, at least 1" thick
  • salt and pepper to taste
For the Brine
  • 1 quart water
  • 3 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp cracked peppercorn melange
  • 1 bay leaf
 For the Honey Glazed Cippolini
  • 6 oz (by weight) cippolini
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 sage leaves, split lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  1. Brine the chops - Mix the brine ingredients and bring to a simmer.  Cool to 40f by either adding 2 cups of ice or chilling in a freezer.  Add the chops and brine, refrigerated for 4 hours.
  2. "Hot tub" the chops - Fill a stock pot with very hot tap water (ours was 122f).  Remove the chops from the brine, place in a zip top bag and place into the hot tap water.  Let them sit in the pot for 1 hour. 
  3. Blanch the cippolini in boiling water for 3 minutes.  Cool and peel them.
  4. Preheat a saute pan over medium heat.  Add the butter, onions, and sage and caramelize the onions (about 20 minutes).  Add the honey and vinegar and cook until reduced, another 10-20 minutes.*  Allow to cool.
  5. Preheat a charcoal grill to 500f.  
  6. Remove chops from the bag and pat them dry (wet meat doesn't sear well and delays the Malliard reaction).   Season the chops with cracked pepper and salt.   You can see in the pictures I went heavy with the black pepper but lighter on salt since they were already brined.
  7. Grill the chops until they reach an internal temp of around 137f, about 3 minutes per side.  I like to rotate the chops 90 degrees half way through each side's cooking time to get cross hatch marks.  That's pretty but not necessary.
  8. Allow the chops to rest for 10 minutes so the carry over cooking will raise the internal temp to 145f.
  • Sauce - I did mine for about 10 minutes after adding the vinegar/honey.  It tasted phenomenal but should have gone longer to thicker.  
pork chop thickness
These were about 1 1/4" thick. 

brining pork chop, pork chop brine
I use these Rubbermaid square bins for brining.  Makes it easy to measure, comes with a cover and fits nicely in our fridge. 

It helps to squeeze out as much air from the bag so the chops don't float.  I also put the lid on to help keep the heat in.

Steaming my potatoes per Jaden's post.  This steamer is about 15 years old.

cippolini onions
Cippolini are mild, sweet onions.  The book says you can substitute pearl onions but I can't imagine the dish being the same that way.

The sage is soft and green here but gets crispy during the saute.

My target temp is to have the whole chop at around 105f before grilling. 
I didn't measure the pepper, just seasoned it rather heavily.

I use the multicolored peppercorns not just for visual appearance.  The green, pink, black and red peppercorns give a more complex taste than straight black pepper.

pork chop grilled butter
I like to drop a cold pat of butter on the chops while they rest.  It adds flavor and gives them a glistening appearance.

grilled pork chop recipe, Big Green Egg pork chop recipe, Grill Dome pork chop recipe, kamado grill pork chop recipe
I could only eat half of this big boy but it made for great leftovers.  Better than restaurant quality for sure.


  1. Love that square container. I've been thinking about brining, but didn't know what to put the stuff in. Now to find one...

  2. You are a grilling hero. Part of that judgment on my part is due to the fact that you not only brined your chops, but you shared a very unusual technique for equalizing the internal temp. Then, too, you indicate a final temperature that is so right - the days of 170 degree pork are (or should be) over. Grill on.

  3. Hot tub method? Well this is news to me.. can't wait to try this method... I bet, along with the brine, it just made the more even that much more succulent!!

  4. That is one gorgeous plate of food! I always brine pork, but I have never heard of the "hot tub" method. It makes perfect sense! I am definitely going to try this recipe! I'm really looking forward to your next post about the pork tour.

    Kim in MD

  5. Every bit of that meal looks delicious. I've never heard of the hot tub method, but obviously from that gorgeous chop, it works perfectly. Many thanks for sharing your tips and tricks, as well as the recipes.

  6. Oh Chris! That pork chop looks heavenly. And, I do agree. I think a good pork chop can be better than steak. I usually let all my meat come to room temp before cooking but never thought about the hot tub method. Will have to try this as my husband's favorite meal is pork chops.

    Love the 15 year old steamer. Will probably last another 15 years.

  7. Those are some beautiful chops ya got there Chris. Love that you brined and hot tubbed them first. Brilliant. Never seen or heard of those onions, but I'm gonna keep my eyes peeled for the.

  8. What is the purpose of the hot tub method you showed?

    I love using the multicolored peppercorns, it gives food such great flavor! This all looks really delicious.

  9. Dang Chris - if you were ever going to invite me to supper, this was the meal, it all sounds great. I love the hot tub trick and will have to try it. The sides all sound delicious, but the onions especially appeal to me.

  10. Chris, watch for my 98% total rip off of your onions and chops tonight on my blog...I can't help myself. We were planning pork chops for tonight and you posted this yesterday; OMG the onions were AMAZING! I will of course and as always give you full credit...and my pictures won't pass the Nibble Test, but we really enjoyed the onions.

  11. I am so totally pork chop challenged. I've never prepared a good thick cut chop that was worth eating. This hot tub method is completely foreign to me. And your comment about it being good as a steak, I've got to give this a try.

  12. Damn! Mom and I were in the hot tub a/k/a spa last night and didn't see no chops. Now I'll have to keep my eyes open for a zip lock bag before I get in. As you may know, Mom has always preferred a thick pork chop over steak.

  13. i've never put butter on pork chops or any kind of meat before, i think now i have to!

    this is gorgeous!

  14. I am a huge pork fan and those chops look amazing,Chris!The brine sounds sweet and delicious!

  15. That is one beautiful plate! The butter on the pork chops is making me drool a little. ;)

  16. Those are some gorgeous chops! Never heard of the hot tub method though. Interesting, woulda never thunk that submerging meat in hot water would bring it up to that high of a temp! The things I learn from you :)

  17. Pork bath, hmmm. That is a very interesting concept. GREG

  18. very interesting method of cooking the pork! sounds delightful

  19. The pork bath is intriguing to me... it looks perfectly cooked & so tasty. I am loving the little onions. I think I could eat an entire bowl of those babies.

  20. This is really truly beautiful! What a well composed dish and I love the sweet onion pairing =D

    The Squishy Monster

  21. Wow this looks fantastic. I cant wait to try this. Great site!


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