I am coming around to being a pork lover (see Pulled Pork Sandwiches). I have never much liked pork because whenever I had it growing up or even in my adult life it was always so dry. I do not like dry meat. And, I especially did not like pork chops because they were always drier than dry. Over-cooked hockey pucks. Pttooey. That’s what I had to say about dry pork chops until…
Yes!Chef! brought home some beautiful pork chops that he had found either at Costco or Safeway…I’m not sure which. At least he thought they were beautiful. I thought they looked dry and they weren’t even cooked. He was so proud. I’m afraid my feeble smile did not instill confidence in him.
He told me that he had found a great recipe in a cookbook we have from American’s Test Kitchen and he practically guaranteed me that they would not be dry. (Insert wan smile from me.)
He mentioned that the pork chops would be smoked, so I was a little bit encouraged. As you can see from the above photos, it was an unusual process. I had never seen pork chops on the grill on their sides like this before. But Y!C! is not afraid of a challenging process. After all his major in college was Chemistry. (He’s a nerd.)
COOKING TIP: If you are going to try this, you really need a meat thermometer. This will greatly improve your chances that the pork won’t become overcooked and DRY! Please, do not serve dry pork chops to your family or anyone else, for that matter. You will scar them for life.
Writer’s Note and encouragement: Although the following recipe may look complicated and it is long, don’t give up. The recipe following this one is simple and tasty. Bonus: pretty pictures of Lake Tahoe and flowers. So keep reading.
Here’s the recipe From America’s Test Kitchen:
- 1/2cup ketchup
- 1/4cup molasses , light or mild
- 2tablespoons grated onion (see note)
- 2tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1tablespoon brown sugar
- 2cups wood chips, soaked in water at least 30 minutes (see note)
- 4 bone-in rib loin pork chops(12 ounces each), 1 1/2 inches thick (see note)
- 4teaspoons kosher saltor 2 teaspoons table salt
- 2teaspoons ground black pepper
- Disposable 13- by 9-inch aluminum cake pan
- 1. FOR THE SAUCE: Bring all ingredients to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce reaches ketchuplike consistency and is reduced to about 1 cup, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer ½ cup sauce to small bowl and set aside to serve with cooked chops.
- 2. FOR THE CHOPS: Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal (6 quarts, about 100 briquettes) and allow to burn until coals are fully ignited and partially covered with thin layer of ash, about 20 minutes. Place aluminum cake pan in center of grill. Empty coals into grill, creating equal-sized piles on each side of pan. Sprinkle 1 cup soaked wood chips on each charcoal pile, position cooking grate over coals, cover grill, and heat until grate is hot and chips are smoking, about 5 minutes. Scrape grate clean with grill brush.
- 3. While grill is heating, pat chops dry with paper towels. Using sharp knife, cut 2 slits about 1 inch apart through outer layer of fat and connective tissue to prevent buckling. Sprinkle entire surface of each chop with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Place chops side by side, facing in same direction, on cutting board with curved rib bone facing down. Pass 2 skewers through loin muscle of each chop, close to bone, about 1 inch from each end. Once chops have been threaded onto skewers, pull apart to create 1-inch space between each.
- 4. Place skewered chops, bone-side down, in center of grill on cooking grate, over aluminum pan. Cover grill and cook until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of pork chop, but away from any bone, registers 120 degrees, 28 to 32 minutes.
- 5. Remove skewers from chops; tip chops onto flat side and brush surface with 1 tablespoon sauce. Transfer chops, sauce-side down, to hotter part of grill and cook, uncovered, until browned, 4 to 7 minutes per side. Brush top of each chop with 1 tablespoon sauce; flip and continue to cook on second side until browned and instant-read thermometer inserted into center of pork chop, but away from any bone, registers 140 to 145 degrees, 2 to 4 minutes longer. Remove chops from grill and allow to rest, tented with foil, 5 minutes. Serve, passing ½ cup reserved sauce separately.Technique
Grill-Smoking Barbecued Pork Chops
1. BUILD SPLIT FIRE Place aluminum pan between two mounds of coals to create cooler center flanked by two hot areas.
- 2. SKEWER CHOPS Pass two skewers through loin muscle of each chop to provide stability when standing on grill.
- 3. STAND ON GRILL Stand skewered chops, bone-side down on cooking grate, in center of grill so smoke can reach all sides.
- 4. SAUCE & SEAR Brush chops with sauce and transfer to hot sides of grill to sear on both sides (brushing top of each chop again before flipping).