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.)

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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.

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I could only eat half of this big boy but it made for great leftovers.  Better than restaurant quality for sure.