Help me improve my pork chops
- cookie monster Jul 6, 2009 02:29 PM
I'm still a gas-grilling neophyte, slowly expanding my repetoire beyond hamburgers and hot dogs and asparagus with olive, salt and pepper. 4th of July I tried pork chops for the first time, using this recipe from the June 2009 Food & Wine magazine:
I followed the recipe and the grilling instructions exactly, and the pork was good but not great. It was moist, which I understand is no small accomplishment with today's nearly fat-free pig parts, but it lacked much . . . oomph. Next time, should I brine it longer? Use a different spice rub? Marinate instead of brining?
P.S. I also tried this asparus recipe which sounded a little odd (mayonnaise on the grill, huh?) but turned out to be delicious:
You could try spicing up the brine(garlic? thyme? fennel?) or skipping the brining altogether and simply doing a different rub. Sometimes I do a rub or a paste with some olive oil, which seems to add flavor quite well.
In some areas (I have access to an old fashioned butcher shop so it's easy to find here) you can purchase pieces of pork fat, unsmoked bacon, pork rind, etc. and render the fat from it to help incorporate more of the flavorful fat proteins to the chops, either by rubbing it on the chops as they cook, laying it on top of the chops as the cook, or rendering the fat and using it as part of a rub.
However, if it's smoked pork chops you're working with, smoked bacon etc. will work just fine too.
When I marinate pork chops, I use one of the hand-held mechanical tenderizers that pierces the meat all over. It makes a big difference in the flavor penetrating inside the chop.
We often like to use more of an Idian spiced rub on pork chops to be grilled - can be served alone or with a chutney of whatever sort you like. We use a recipe & technique from Cooks Illustrated; I can look it up fo ryou if you want but don't have it handy at the moment.
Next time buy the most marbled, thickest, bone-in rib chops that you can find. I find these to have the most flavor with the meat nearest the bone coming out both amazingly moist and flavorful. You can brine chops for longer than one hour; I have brined them overnight and they were fine. Adding seasoning beyond the essential salt or salt/sugar to the brine layers flavors in the chops. This can be as simple as adding fresh or dried herbs to mustards to soy/teriyaki/worcestershire/steak sauces to pickle juice to garlic and ginger to your favorite salad dressing. You can marinate after you brine but don't skip the brining step.
When you are done with these pick up the bone and gnaw the rest of the meat from the bone and you will see what I am talking about. And if you really want some "oomph" try using a Jamaican jerk paste before grilling. Make it fresh yourself and I guarantee that you will notice the flavor.
Not a scientific answer but the brine seems too weak/too short a time. Adjusting either or both, seems to me, will improve the recipe. Adding other flavors to the brine, ex. garlic or other spices may also add oomph.
Me, not a huge brine fan, but thick cut chops is probably one of the few I do brine. But I brine MUCH longer, all day at least 8 hrs for me. I also add some peppercorns, allspice and some seasoning in mine as well.
the rub seemed good to me, although lacking in herbs for me. Also with the spicy pork I would of loved some baked black beans and maybe some rice to round out the flavor, cilantro, lime and some of the chili flavors. Rice with some chipoltes, lime juice, scallions and some of the same flavors.
I do marinade my pork a lot and more found of that for a medium thick to thin chop. The extra thick are really the only ones I brine. Just not a fan. I know that goes against most. but just me.
But the brine time is too little. Brine longer and really rube the seasoning in
I'll add on to CDouglas. Consider the cut of meat you're buying. The quality of the cut of meat will make a bigger difference in your dish than tweaking a brine. Since you mentioned "today's nearly fat free pig" I assume you are buying such meat. But you have more options. Those options will depend based on where you live. Look for a local butcher who sells pork from heirloom pigs, or at the very least tell the butcher you want some marbling in your pork and see what they have. You can also order online but I don't have any experience with that so I can't really recommend anyone. Google will give you plenty of links.
I love pork chops from the grill. I buy the nice thick ones, cook slowly over indirect heat. I think it is tough to marinade pork so I try to use a good seasoning during the grilling. Montral Steak is good as well as fresh squeezed lime juice.
As a side, torwards the end of grilling, I take fresh peaches pit removed, rub with a little olive oil and course pepper. When they have lovely grill marks add some bar-b-que sauce and they are an awsome side dish.
More time in the brine for sure! Garlic and herbs are good too.
Seems a bit odd that they did not call for any sweetness in the brine. Sure its in the rub, but I would sweeten the brine too. Other recipes I've used, and ones I just checked, all include a sweetener. Molases, brown sugar, maple syrup... whatever grabs you!
Lack of oomph usually means not enough salt. Either add more to the brine to begin with, brine longer, or salt the surface just prior to grilling. Modern, leaner pork doesn't seem to have as much natural salt as beef, in my opinion. In a thick cut, I sometimes find the center to be bland.