Friday, June 6, 2014

Win A Big Green Egg

How would you like to win a nice, new, shiny Big Green Egg for your backyard this summer?

This one is mine, you'll have to go win your own!

The National Pork Board and Kroger's search for America's Top #ChopGriller has narrowed from 6,000+ entries to just eight contestants.  These eight finalists are vying for a huge $15,000 backyard makeover and they need your vote to do that.  I think the voting is going to be tough, because all of these folks deserve to be in the finals. 

Some focus on recipe ideas with mouthwatering flavor combinations for pork, like Mary Edwards fruity brine and herbs or Taylor Middleton's combo of Gouda cheese, cumin, and brown sugar.  Some utilize "secret" (well, they were secret) ingredients, such as; Seph Anderson's use of jalapeno juice or Sandi Sheppard's jerk grilled pineapple.

Other contestants bring ideas that emphasize techniques for creating pork masterpieces.  Stephen Radford borrows from the French technique of sous-vide and marinades under vacuum pressure.  Jack Tatum adds wood smoke to his JD marinated chops.  BJ Hoffman grills his chops upright, a technique that I used in my book, and Alan Bowman uses the reverse sear. 

See?  You have a tough choice to make.  I definitely plan on borrowing these ideas for my grilling repertoire.  Don't worry, the National Pork Board and Kroger don't want to leave you out in the cold.  They want you to win something too. All that YOU have to do to be entered to win a Large Big Green Egg and a supply of pork for the summer is to VOTE.   Just click right here and go vote for the contestant that you think has what it takes to be the Top #ChopGriller.  You can enter once a day through June 13, 2014, so get clicking! 

Speaking of techniques, here are some great grilling tips from the pros.  Robyn "Grill Grrrl" Lindars asked some of the heaviest hitters in BBQ for their grilling pointers to help elevate your backyard grilling game.

Those are some fantastic tips from some of my favorite people, for sure.  I really liked Brad's tip about the sauce, since I see many people just stir that together cold.  I took a little different approach putting together my grilling advice, because there are things you can do before or after the actual grilling that also make a big impact on your grilled pork chops.  So I want to share 2 tips for Before The Fire, During The Fire, and After The Fire

Before The Fire
Layer Flavors
Sure you can just throw salt, pepper, and garlic on your pork and grill it for a good chop.  But to make it a GREAT pork chop, build layers of flavor.  In addition to a good dry rub, I like to build up  that flavor through either marinade, brine, or injections.  Whatever you use, make sure that you use flavors that either complement the essence of your rub or add to it. 

Marinades, brines, and injections are an ideal way to make your neighbors envious of your grilled chop skills.
Pick The Chop For You
Pork chops are a personal thing so go with what you like.  If you like thin, I recommend going with a rub and a brine or marinade.  If you like them thick, I tend to go with an injection since brines and marinades only penetrate the surface of the meat.  If you like boneless, go for the New York Pork Chop for the classic "boneless pork chop".  Want something a little fancier?  Go with a pork chop that has been "frenched" so that a portion of the bone is exposed like a handle.  My favorite chop?  Easy!  That would be a 1 1/2" thick porterhouse chop!

During the Fire
Preheat Your Grill
Whether you use coal, wood, or gas, be sure to give your grill plenty of time to preheat.  It takes the metal longer to heat up than the air inside the grill, so don't just throw the chops on as soon as the grill thermometer hits your cooking temp.  Giving your grill grates time to heat up will minimize problems with meat sticking and it will let you get those pretty cross hatch marks.  

Reverse Sear Thick Chops
Thin pork chops are ideal for grilling direct, or what most people consider "regular" grilling.  But for thick chops (1 inch or more), I like to treat them with the reverse sear.  Set up your grill for indirect heat and slow roast your pork chops until they hit your desired internal temperature (145-160°F with a three minute rest).   While your chops are resting, turn your grill up to "nuclear" and then sear the chops just long enough to caramelize the outer surface of the chop.  This will give you an evenly cooked chop with a golden crust.

After the Fire
Don't stop seasoning after the grill
Remember what I said about building layers of flavor?  That doesn't stop with the fire.  There are several ways to add flavor after cooking.  One way is to use a "board dressing" on your cutting board or plate.  Drizzle a little oil and sprinkle some fresh herbs and garlic on your plate.  Then as you are cutting up your pork chop, it mixes with the additional flavors.   Another way is to use a high quality finishing salt, such as fleur de sel, Himalayan pink salt, or some of the exotic Hawaiian salts.  

My favorite way to layer flavor after the cook is to use a compound butter that you put on top of each chop as they come off of the grill.  Mix together a 1/2 stick of softened butter, 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon of apple pie seasoning and then chill it for 30 minutes.  Top your resting chops with a pat of that and you will be impressed with yourself.

Use A Raised Rack
When you rest your meat, you're giving the juices a chance to balance out.  The only problem is the surface on the bottom has all of that heat trapped and that causes the fibers of the surface to open up, leaving a puddle of deliciousness behind.  If you put your chops on a rack like this, you won't have that problem.  Don't have a fancy "raised rack"?  Steal the rack out of your toaster oven!

So don't forget....

You can enter to win a Big Green Egg, once a day, every day between now and June 13th simply by voting for your favorite Top #ChopGriller at the Pork Be Inspired website.

[Standard Disclaimer]  This is a sponsored post and I received compensation from the National Pork Board and Kroger for my participation in this promotion.