This recipe is sponsored by Knob Creek Bourbon – they kindly sent me some bottles of their product, and are featuring this recipe on the Brothers of Bourbon site. Give them a visit, and tell them DadCooksDinner sent you!
Pork loin chopscan be dry and bland. Today we’re fixing that, taking the flavors of a Knob Creek Sour and building them into the chops.Start with thick-cut, bone in pork chops. The mass of the bone slows down cooking, and the thick chop gives us time to build a browned crust on the outside of the chop without overcooking the inside. I don’t cook pork loin past medium doneness; chops are so lean they dry out when cooked past 145°F to 150°F internal temperature. And, best of all, bone in pork chops give me a bone to nibble on as part of dinner.
If you can find Berkshire pork, a heritage breed that isn’t as lean as modern pigs, buy it! It’s worth the extra money to get a little fat in the meat – fat means flavor.
The first layer of flavor is the marinade – lemon, bourbon, salt, and sugar. This marinade has a lot of salt in it, resulting in a marinade that also works as a brine. While the marinade flavors the outside of the meat, the salt works its way into the meat, seasoning it down to the bone. That brining effect helps the pork hang onto liquid while it cooks, so it doesn’t dry out on the grill.
Don’t worry, the pork chops won’t come out salty – the extra salt is discarded with the excess marinade.
The next layer of flavor is from the grill. Sear the chops directly over the coals to start a beautiful browned crust. Then, move the chops away from the heat, so they can finish gently over indirect heat. We’ll add some wood chips, adding a hint of smoke to the pork.
The last layer of flavor is a lemon, bourbon, and brown sugar glaze. This gives the chops sweet-sour crust, with the tart lemon playing off the sweet bourbon and brown sugar.
Bland pork chops? I don’t think so.
Recipe: Grilled Pork Chops with Knob Creek Lemon Glaze
Cooking time: 14 minutes
- 4 (1 1/2 inch thick) bone in pork loin chops (t-bone chops or rib chops)
- 1 cup of wood chips, soaked in water for 1 hour (oak chips are best, if you can find them; hickory, apple, cherry, or pecan also work)
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup Knob Creek bourbon
- 1 tablespoon fine sea salt (or 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1. Marinate the chops
Put the pork chops in baking dish in a single layer. Make the marinade: whisk the lemon juice and zest, bourbon, salt, and sugar until the salt and sugar dissolve, about 1 minute. Whisk in the oil in a slow stream. Pour the marinade over the chops, and turn to coat. Put the dish in the refrigerator and let the chops marinate, turning occasionally. Marinate for at least an hour, preferably four hours.
2. Preheat the grill to medium-high
Set the grill up for two zone cooking; one side should be medium-high heat, the other side no heat. In my kettle grill, I light a chimney full of charcoal, wait for it to be covered with gray ash, then pour the charcoal in a tight, single layer over half the charcoal grate. In my gas grill, I preheat with all the burners on high for 15 minutes, then turn two of the burners down to medium-high and turn off all the other burners. After the grill is preheated, I brush the grates clean with my grill brush.
3. Prepare the glaze
If you have a grill-safe basting pot, put the glaze ingredients in the pot and give them a stir. Put the pot on the grill over direct heat until it starts boiling, then slide it just off the heat, and let it simmer while grilling the pork chops, thickening it into a glaze. Move it closer or farther from the heat as needed to maintain a simmer.
My “grill safe pot” is an enameled steel coffee mug, intended for camping. If you don’t have a grill safe pot, simmer on the stovetop while the grill preheats, reducing it to a thick glaze.
4. Grill the chops
Quick summary: Sear the chops over medium-high heat for 6 minutes. Finish over indirect heat with the lid closed, until the chops reach 135°F internal temperature, about 8 more minutes.
Details: Take the chops out of the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Put the chops on the grill over the medium-high heat and grill until they are starting to brown, about 2 minutes. Flip the chops and grill the other side until it starts to brown, about 2 more minutes. Flip the chops, rotating 90 degrees to get a diamond pattern in the grill marks, and cook until they are well browned on the bottom, about 2 more minutes.
Brush the chops on both sides with the lemon bourbon glaze, watching out for flareups as the glaze drips onto the fire. Move the chops over to the unlit side of the grill, put the drained wood chips on the charcoal, and close the lid and cook the chops with indirect heat. The chops are done when they reach 140°F internal temperature (cooked to medium doneness), about 8 minutes. Brush the chops again with the glaze and remove to a platter. Let the chops rest for ten minutes before serving.
- 1 1/2 inch thick chops will serve two people, unless they’re big eaters (like me). Or, if each person needs their own bone to gnaw on (again, like me.)
- Because of the lemon juice, this is a very acidic marinade. It will cook the pork chops like ceviche if they marinate too long. Don’t let the chops sit for more than eight hours, or they’ll start to get tough.
- Smoking wood is easy to use in a charcoal grill; just toss it on the coals. Gas grills are trickier. If your gas grill comes with a smoker box, use it for the wood chips. If not, wrap the drained chips in a layer of aluminum foil, and (carefully!) lift the grate and put them directly on the burner cover over a lit burner after you move the chops to indirect heat.
- I’m recommending Knob Creek for this recipe because of its big bourbon flavor. And, of course, a glass of Knob Creek is the perfect drink with these chops.
What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
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