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Monday, September 1, 2014

BBQ Pork Chops


Now that we're selling our BBQ sauce and rubs at the farmer's market every week, there are several questions I seem to get with regularity.

One of them is: exactly HOW do I cook pork chops on the grill? For those of you that do it regularly, it may seem like an easy question, but if it's something you've never tried, it may not be quite so simple.

Well, I'm here to help.

I'm certain there are MANY different ways to do it, including using things like Italian dressing, etc. Since we're there to sell BBQ sauce and rubs, I think the answer they are looking for is more in line with how to cook and BBQ on the grill, so that's the one I'm going to try to answer.

My first piece of advice is this: brine your pork.

Do you have to? Of course not.

Should you? I feel the answer is a resounding yes.

I had never brined anything until a couple of years ago but I'm now a HUGE believer in it, particularly for pork and poultry.
Bone-in chops are my favorite, but I can't always find the thick ones I prefer.
This is from dinner a couple of weeks ago after a visit to the local butcher shop.

Today's pork has very little fat in it and because of this, it's way too easy to overcook and dry it out - that's why brining is your friend. There are lots of different brines out there; if you don't believe me, do a quick search for it. To paraphrase my grandmother, there are more brine recipes than you can shake a stick at (though I never quite understood why you'd want to shake a stick at all the things I heard that saying used for).

Brining is NOT difficult - quite the contrary. I'm sure you can find some very complicated brines in that search that you just did, but it's really not necessary. The one I use for both pork and poultry is VERY simple and just has five ingredients (one is water). I've made brines with citrus, with rosemary, even with curry but I always end up coming back to this one for the robust flavor and simplicity.

A common misconception about brining is that it makes things salty: WRONG!! Yes, you use salt in the brine, but it doesn't make it taste salty - at all.

So, here is the brine I use and the procedure. Of course, I'd like to think that if you use our BBQ sauce and rub, these will be the best pork chops you've ever had, but realistically, ANY rub and/or sauce you like will work just fine (using rub is an option - once again, I believe it will taste better if you find a rub you like, but it's not really necessary).

One other tip: keep in mind that if it's too hot, rainy, snowy, or cold outside or if you simply don't have a grill you can use a grill pan on the stove top for this and it will come out just fine. You'll get the same grill marks and for the most part, the same flavor (some people debate whether or not the open fire on a grill actually adds any flavor - I tend to think it does but wouldn't argue with those that feel the opposite).

Ingredients

  • 6 pork chops (my preference is 1 1/2 inch thick, bone-in pork chops. I can't always find them - including for pictures today - so whatever kind you like or can find is fine. Simply adjust cooking time based on the thickness of your pork chops)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (enough to coat both sides of chops)
  • Mac Brothers Pork and Poultry Rub (Regular or Spicy, depending upon preferences)*
  • Brine (recipe below)
  • Mac Brothers BBQ Sauce (any variety - or any other sauce you prefer)

*NOTE: Any rub you like will work.  I don't list the amount of rub here simply because you're going to sprinkle the rub liberally on the pork and it's going to depend on the size and number of pork chops you're using.

Brine**
  • 6 cups water
  • 6 cups apple cider
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
**NOTE: This recipe makes enough brine that you could actually do twice the number of pork chops in this recipe.

Directions

  1. Mix together the brine ingredients, being certain that the salt and brown sugar have dissolved (I typically use half hot water and dissolve the salt and sugar in that, then add the other half as ice water)
  2. Add the pork chops to the brine
    Brined chops
  3. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least four hours, up to overnight
  4. Remove the chops from the brine and pat dry, then place on a large pan
  5. Pour olive oil on both sides of chops and rub in to coat
  6. Sprinkle rub liberally over the surface of chops (both sides - see picture for an idea of how it should look); make certain you cover all surfaces of the chops with the rub
    Apply the rub liberally, then rub into the chops
  7. Place all of the chops on a preheated grill.  I heat mine to about 400 degrees
    Put sauce on the pork chops after placing on the grill
  8. Using a grill brush, spread BBQ sauce on the top of the chops
  9. Close grill and cook for about seven minutes for 1 1/2 inch chops. If yours are thinner, adjust cooking time as necessary
    If you want diamond pattern grill marks, simply turn chops
    45 degrees about halfway through the cooking time for each side
  10. Turn over and again spread sauce on top of the chops
  11. Close grill and cook for another seven minutes
  12. Remove from grill - I typically put a bit more sauce on the last side that was cooked right after removing from the grill (keep in mind, the USDA minimum safe temperature for pork is 145 degrees)
    Let the chops sit for about five minutes after removing from the grill
  13. Let rest for about five minutes
  14. Enjoy!
    Simple and hard to beat!
Let me know what you think in the comments if you try this!!