Well we had a loss in the family this past weekend and I needed something to take my mind off it all, so I had a little lady over and did some grilling since that takes a little less planning that getting a good long smoke on.
I ran to Walmart and saw two bone-in thick cup pork chops on sale for $4.89 and had to get them since they were cheap (I never like spending a whole bunch on a gal, but what single guy does
This is my first time cooking pork chops (I know, noob big time
) and all I can remember from every pork chop I've ever had was how dry it was. I guess that is why I have never tried to grill them on my own and was NEVER impressed by the flavor or texture. After much reading here though, I decided I'd give the ole chop a try since these were cut thick at about 1 1/2" and probably would do better at not drying out.
Started out by brining the chops like most people recommend since I wanted them to be moist, dryness once again is why I thought I didn't like chops. I mixed up my own brine recipe I guess. Started out with one quart of water and one quart of apple cider and added 1/2 cup salt and 1/4 cup dark molasses. I let them brine for about 2 1/2 hours and then pulled them out and gave them a quick rinse and dry. No pics of the brining.
Now to the stuffing! Diced up a few red delicious apples since that's what I had, half a sweet onion, one clove of garlic, and chopped up some toasted pecans. I sautéed everything but the pecans till it was all nice and soft. I used about 1/4 cup of apple cider at the end of the sauté and reduced that down till it was a bit sticky and RIGHT before I took it off to let the filling cool I added about 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract that I made about 6 months ago using Maker's Mark bourbon. I figured that the bourbon and the vanilla would work well since I planned on glazing these with something sweet and savory. Grated up some smoked cheddar I had and mixed it in with the cool filing.
Cut a pretty big cavity in the pork chops but used a real small incision hole and stuff the pork chops absolutely full with the filling and skewered them shut with a twig of rosemary. Diced up the remainder of the rosemary I had and sprinkled it over the chops and hit them with a good bit of fresh ground black pepper.
Loaded up the chimney completely full with Royal Oak lump and gave it a good long time to ash over, then dumped the whole thing to one side of the Performer and gave it some time to heat. I did these with that reverse sear method since they were real thick with all that filling and I wanted to be sure that the smoked cheddar in there got hot and melty. While they were grilling I went inside and made a quick glaze. Used 1/4 cup Apricot preserves since I didn't have any apple, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup pure maple syrup, and 1/4 cup of dijon mustard. Never made it before, but just kind of threw some stuff in the pot that sounded good and reduced it down till thick. Turned out to be freaking awesome and definitely a new thing in my cook book. After they were nice and brown and seared them super fast and then put them back over to the cool side and glazed and let that warm up and melt and then pulled them to rest.
The little lady that I had over handled the baking of the asparagus since I wanted to focus on the meat and not be juggling asparagus and pork on the grill Roasted the spears in the oven on 450 with a dark spicy olive oil and some Cavender's Greek seasoning. I loaded up my rice cooker with some wild rice before I ever fired up the grill too. If you haven't ever used a rice cooker you should buy one. So nice to not have to even think about the rice, and it keeps it perfectly warm until your ready to serve. I thought they were completely gimmicky and useless before mom got me one for Christmas and that's when I realized that I didn't know how to cook perfect rice. It's not sticky or underdone, and literally set and forget.
Toasted up some garlic and butter bread too from a baguette I made earlier.
Here's the meal in it's entirety though and one of the chops splayed open. It was really good, and the vanilla and maple syrup definitely gave it great flavor with the smokeyness of the grill, and the smoked cheddar did a GREAT job of holding it all together without using bread crumbs and didn't overpower everything with smoke flavor, and the brining made them so juicy. I don't think I'll ever think of pork chops the same way again. I love them now and know that all it takes is a little brine and a little less cooking and they are awesomely juicy. The meat close to the bone was slightly pink and the best part to me. Pork chops are almost up there with lamb as far as I'm concerned and I can only imagine if I had gotten even better pork from somewhere other than Walmart, but I gotta give them props on these pork chops though. They were great. I think I'll let this photo tell how much we enjoyed everything though. ;)