Thursday, September 24, 2015

Grilled Rib Chops with Coppa Bacon and Apple Compote

We splurged this weekend and got some nicely marbled Berkshire* rib chops that ended up in this fantastic Grilled Rib Chops with Coppa Bacon and Apple Compote.

Berkshire pork, pork chop, grilled pork chop,
The smoky salty bacon, sweet apple compote, and simply seasoned pork chop play well together.

We splurged because we went to Willy's Butcher Shop in Knoxville without a shopping list. You know how they say not to go shopping when hungry?  Yeah, don't go to Willy's without a list either or you'll want to buy some of everything.  

Willy's Butcher Shop is located in the Homberg shopping district of Knoxville.

So we had already bought a fine Wagyu brisket, shop ground Toulouse sausage, and our Berkshire chops. We were on our way out the door when Willy called us back to try some of the best bacon I have ever had in my life - cherry wood smoked coppa bacon.  

Willy's Butcher Shop, bacon, coppa bacon
Willy slicing into his fresh smoked coppa bacon.

For the coppa bacon, he had taken a few "money muscles", cured them, and had just taken them out of the smoker.  The "money muscle" is what competitive BBQ teams call the treasured portion of the pork butt that helps them win the money, hence the name. The bacon was amazing with a lot of sweet up front, not from the sugar in the cure, but from the meat itself.  Then as the tender meat breaks down, a prosciutto like saltiness comes across and it finishes with a balanced smoke flavor.  I talked about it all of the way home so Alexis went back and bought an entire chub of it.

Coppa bacon from the pork shoulder - it's like a cross between Canadian bacon, prosciutto, and pork belly bacon.
Love this bacon!  I think a slice of this, an olive, and a cube of semi-hard cheese would be the perfect cocktail skewer.  I also can't wait to make some eggs Benedict with it.  I used it as a garnish for my chops because the saltiness contrasts the sweet of the apple compote. For this recipe you could substitute some Canadian bacon.  

I went very basic with the pork seasoning because I wanted the quality of the pork to come through. The idea for the compote comes from Adam Perry Lang's BBQ 25 - a great quick reference grilling book, btw - for how to cook thick pork chops.  I used a different method than his though.  The concern with grilling thick pork chops directly is that by the time the center is cooked, the outsides are overcooked.  There are several ways to do this but today my method was to use GrillGrates and a slightly lower cooking temperature.  First you use them to sear the chops, then with a raised grid the GrillGrates serve as a heat shield to let the chops roast. You can use GrillGrates and this method for any gas or charcoal grill, not just kamados.

Grilled Pork Chops with Coppa Bacon and Apple Compote
Published 09/23/2015


  • 2 pork rib chops, 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • granulated garlic, to taste
  • 2 slices coppa bacon
For the Apple Compote
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced


  1. Preheat grill to 350°f set up for direct heat.  In my case, I set up my Grill Dome kamado grill with lump coal, started it with a MAPpro torch, and let it heat to 350°f.  Then I added a set of GrillGrates and let them preheat for 10 minutes. 
  2. Lightly coat the pork chops with some oil and season the pork chops on both sides with salt, pepper, and garlic.  I didn't measure, just sprinkle each of some evenly all over the chops.
  3. Mix all of the compote ingredients in a small pan that will fit on the grill with the chops.  
  4. Sear the chops for 4 minutes per side.  If you want nice cross hatch marks, rotate the chops one quarter turn halfway through each side's cooking time.  Meanwhile grill the coppa or Canadian bacon until slightly crisp, about 1-2 minutes per side.  Coarsely chop the bacon.
  5. Switch the grill to indirect heat.  For my kamado grill set up, I just put a raised grate above the GrillGrates. Place your compote pan on the GrillGrates and move the chops up to the raised grid above the compote pan.  Close the grill and let the chops finish roasting to 140°f degrees, 15 to 20 minutes.  Stir the compote occasionally during this time and move it to the top rack if it starts bubbling to aggressively, it's a lot of sugar and can burn.  Let the chops rest for  minutes after coming off of the grill.
  6. Serve each chop with some of the compote spooned over it and top with the chopped bacon.
Yield: 2 servings

You know that you have a good butcher when he has a smoker running out front.

My loot from my first trip to Willy's - Wagyu brisket, Toulouse sausage, and the Berkshire chops. Alexis went back for the Coppa bacon and some burgers.

thick pork chops, steak chops, how to grill thick pork chops
This is why I refer to thick chops as "two finger chops".  It's the thickness I look for when wanting to make a memorable pork chop.  A well cooked, thick pork chop is as good as a steak to me.

thick chops, GrillGrates, sear roast, Berkshire pork, pork chops,
The GrillGrates are a nice tool to have for any grill.  They do double duty in this cook.

How to grill thick pork chops on a kamado grill, thick chops BGE, thick chops GrillDome, thick chops kamado joe
Notice the position of the GrillGrates in this shot.  I have them to the back so the dome thermometer is not affected by them deflecting the heat.  I also like to have my grill stabilized at my planned cooking temp before putting the GrillGrates in to preheat.

GrillGrates, indirect kamado set up
This set up does a couple of things.  The GrillGrates now act as a partial heat shield, letting the chops roast indirectly instead of grill. Having the compote tray underneath adds some of the pork drippings to the sweet condiment to bring it full circle.

thick pork chops, ThermaQ, Berkshire pork, Thermoworks
The ideal temp for chops this thick is 145°F after they finish a 5 minute rest. A remote probe thermometer like this ThermaQ or a ChefAlarm is best for knowing when to pull the chops off of the cooker.

We served these with carrots and kale greens, it all went together perfectly.
Man, I love a good pork chop!

*Berkshire pork is a heritage breed of pork that has a reputation for meat resplendent with marbling and flavor.  The Berkshire today is quite different then when it was first recorded as the oldest pig pedigree where it originated in Britain.  Much of that's because Asia took a liking to Berkshire 18th and 19th centuries and developed breeding programs for Kurobuta (black pig) pork [source].  Our chops definitely lived up to the breed's reputation, they had a good color and flecks of fat throughout the meat.

[FTC Standard Disclosure]  I received no compensation for this post; however, Grill Dome is one of our sponsors. I received the GrillGrates as a sample 5 years ago and still think they are a fantastic tool for any grill. I paid full price for the ThermaQ and products from Willy.