Thursday, September 19, 2019

Grilled Pork Chops with Fontina Cheese Mashed Potatoes

[Standard FTC Disclosure]  I received no compensation for this post.

These chops were so delicious for dinner last night, thick, juicy and delightfully seasoned.  Of course, you can't go wrong with cheesy mashed potatoes and to top it all off, I added a hefty dollop of smoked onion jam.

I did something different with these bone-loin chops.  First I dry brined them and then after grilling I treated them sort of like Memphis-style dry-rubbed ribs.  This is a "free cook," where I'm just cooking for the enjoyment so I won't lay out a full detailed recipe here.  

Grilled pork chops with fontina cheese mashed potatoes.

I used the dry-brine technique on the pork chops to create flavor and retain moisture during the cooking process.  The dry-brine method is applying a salty rub to meat and letting it rest, refrigerated, for a while.  At first, the salt draws out moisture from the meat but then as the concentrations change, diffusion pulls the now seasoned moisture back into the meat.  There's more to it than that, but that's the gist of it.
Tips for how to dry brine pork chops
I applied the dry brine before I left for work in the morning, so it had 9 hours to work its magic.
The dry brine was simple but covered the bases - salty, sweet, savory, and heat. 

NMT Quick Pork Chop Dry Brine

makes enough for 2 pork chops


  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  1. Mix ingredients together.
  2. Wipe pork chops dry and apply a light coat of high temperature cooking oil.  Season on all sides with the dry brine mix.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours.

When I dry brine, I prefer to leave the meat on a resting rack instead of laying it flat on a plate.  This allows air circulation and gives the same conditions on the bottom that you have around the rest of the meat.

How to dry brine pork chops.
It is wise to cover the meat loosely with either plastic wrap or a food bag.  This is because refrigerators dry the surface of foods and we don't want the moisture on the meat being evaporated away before it has a chance to be reabsorbed into the meat.  

Smokeware thermometer
These chops were thick, but not super-thick, so I debated between doing a reverse-sear or direct grilling.  In the end, I went with direct grilling at 400°f because I was hungry now.

How to grill thick pork chops on a Big Green Egg kamado grill with Craycort grates.
I grilled the chops on a large Big Green Egg.  You can't miss the unique pattern of the Craycort cast iron grates there.  After each flip, I'd spritz the top with some quality apple juice.

Speaking of spritzing, let's talk spray bottles.  We used to buy the plastic ones, but the spray mechanism would crap out after a few months.  We bought this metal (my guess is aluminum) one last year at a grocery store in town, and this thing has held up like no other.  It's made by Bradshaw International and says on the label but the only place I can find it online is here.  The label is a complete PITA to remove, I just soaked mine for a day.
So with Memphis dry ribs, they smoke the ribs and then at the end, baste them with a vinegar wash and then liberally apply a dry rub before serving.  I used that technique but with different flavor profiles.

As soon as the chops hit an internal temperature of 140°f, I put them on a rack as pictures.  Then I spritzed them one last time with apple juice and dusted them with some of my finely ground NMT Southern Sweet recipe.  The fine, sweet rub will quickly soak onto/into the hot pork chop, creating almost a glaze for the finished look.  The key is to do this with fine rub and while the pork chops are steaming hot.

NMT Southern Sweet bbq rub recipe
As the name implies, NMT Southern Sweet is a sweet traditional BBQ rub.  It is from my new book, The Offset Smoker Cookbook (Ulysses Press), and it is one of my favorite general-purpose BBQ rubs.  If you don't feel like making it, use a commercial rub that is fine and sweet - something like Meat Church Honey Hog, Meat Church Deez Nuts, or KosmoQ's Killer Bee Honey Rub.

For the mashed potatoes, we peeled and cubed about 1 1/2 pounds of Yukon gold potatoes and boiled them until fork tender.  We drained them and then mashed them by hand and added in shredded fontina cheese, butter, cream, white pepper, and kosher salt to taste.  

We used Blackberry Farm's Smoked Onion Jam.  Blackberry Farm in Walland, TN, is world renown and frequently featured in travel/culinary publications for their food, wine, and hospitality.  I just happened to find their Smoked Onion Jam at a store in town, and it is amazingly good. Sweet and smoky, it is a fantastic condiment with grilled meats, biscuits, grilled cheese, or a flip flop.

Alexis and I both ate every bit of our meal, the flavors were perfect together.

I always pull my pork chops at 140°f and let them rest for 5 minutes because I can't stand dry chops.  The USDA changed its recommendation from 165°f to 145°f with a 3-minute rest years ago.  I only mention it because I saw someone cite the 165°f online just last week.