Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Thick Cut Butterfly Grilled Pork Chops a How-to Photo Essay to get Perfect Chops EVERYTIME

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A Funny thing is happening at the meat counter these days... Not funny-HA HA, but Funny peculiar.

On a recent trip I was going to buy a couple of pounds of hamburger...  My selection of choice, 80/20 ground beef, nothing special, nothing extra grind or added mixing, just your standard package of hamburger came in at a ridiculous $3.99 a pound!  FOUR DOLLARS FOR HAMBURGER???  When did that happen?

Well, I took a look around and noticed that the pork loins were a very reasonable $2.49 a pound.


Looks like I will be cooking up a lot of pork loin this summer.

Besides, when you think about it, if cooked properly, beautifully charred, crusty on the outside, moist tender and succulent on the inside, simply but deliciously seasoned... Who wouldn't rather have this than a burger???

But the difference between moist tender and succulent and over cooker charred shoe leather is not that far apart.

So, armed with comparatively inexpensive meat a knife and a little know how, you too can achieve... Moist Tender and Succulent!

Here's how...

 A pork loin is the cut of a pig around the rib cage.  You may commonly see this as bone in pork chops.  If you buy the bone in chops they will either need to be cut with two bones in order to get a thick cut, or you will get thin chops.  The thinner the chops the more difficult it will be to not overcook on a grill.  Just not enough center moisture to cook through and still have a moist center.
 So, we are going to buy that BIG Loin, that 3 pound loin, which is generally around a foot long (12 inches).  Which easily can be turned into six 2 inch chops!  You can usually find thick cut chops like this at a premium butcher shop... and you usually find a premium price.  These 6 half pound chops came in at just $1.25 per!!!
 OK... Now time to butterfly.Easy Peasy, really, you can do this (and of course you can buy the ones that come pre cut for that premium price... Let's do this ourselves and save that money!!!

Chops come with a fat side and a lean side.  There is a thin layer of fat around one side of the loin.  Position this side on the bottom of a cutting board and just start slicing through the pork slowly and carefully down the center.  You want to do this so that you leave a fraction of an inch of meat attached to that bottom fat layer.  That fraction will hold the chop together while you open the chop up like a book.  One tip is to be sure and cut through at each end.  Fat will shrink up as t cooks.  That's why steaks have a tendency to curl up as they cook.  The chops will curl a little as they cook, but cutting some around the ends will keep the chops from curling too much.

 OK... Now we brine.

Don't be scared, once you brine your pork you will never go back.  It only takes a few minutes of hands on work (and a couple hours of planning ahead, only down side is you shouldn't just open, make a few cuts and grill... you could, you just shouldn't).

Here's what happens when you brine...

Brining makes cooked meat moister by hydrating the cells of its muscle tissue before cooking, via the process of osmosis, and by allowing the cells to hold on to the water while they are cooked, via the process of denaturation. The brine surrounding the cells has a higher concentration of salt than the fluid within the cells, but the cell fluid has a higher concentration of other solutes. This leads salt ions to diffuse into the cell, whilst the solutes in the cells cannot diffuse through the cell membranes into the brine. The increased salinity of the cell fluid causes the cell to absorb water from the brine via osmosis. The salt introduced into the cell also denatures its proteins. The proteins coagulate, forming a matrix that traps water molecules and holds them during cooking. This prevents the meat from dehydrating.
 And here is the how-to's for a 3 pound loin cut into chops...

In a Large pot, simmer 6 cups of water
Add 2 Cups Sugar, 2 Cups Salt and 1/4 Cup Peppercorns

Stir until all of the salt and sugar has dissolved into the water.  Remove from heat

Add 6 Cups of ICE to cool the water.  Add additional if needed to get the water to chilled stage.

Add the chops.  Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour and up to 6 hours.  Even a 15 minute soak will be worth the time.  But longer the better when possible.

 After the chilly rest, remove pork from the brine and dry with a paper towel.  If you skip this step your meat will not get a pleasing crusty coat but more of a steamed look.

It sounds like a lot of work, but really once you do this a time or two you can do all of these steps in about 10 minutes of hands on work.  10 minutes that WILL make your pork moist tender and succulent!
 Simple seasonings...

Salt and pepper is all I use most of the time.  Be generous and pat the seasonings in before moving to the grill...

High direct heat... to get the diamond pattern, start the chops with the fat side up.  MAKE SURE THE GRILL HAS PREHEATED FOR 15 MINUTES SO IT IS HOT HOT HOT.  Put chop down, grill undisturbed for 3 minutes, then lift with tongs (never a fork) and turn 90 degrees and grill for another 3 minutes.  And flip over.

Now the fat from the meat is rendering out, flavoring the meat.  But also dripping into the coals or flame jets on a gas grill.  That's ok, you have the serving side looking perfect.  A little extra char will not hurt.  You are not looking for diamond shaped char marks anymore, so if the flame gets too high, just move to a non flaming part of the grill.

After a few minutes, measure the internal temperature of the meat with a meat thermometer.  Remove from heat when it reaches 140-145 degrees.... Every degree above 145 and your meat is just a little drier, less succulent.

Next is  VERY VERY VERY important... Take a rest.  Allow your pork to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving or slicing.  This allows the meat to relaxe and the juices to be reabsorbed into the meat.

But even better...

That 10 minutes gives you time to grill vegetables for your side dish... Like Peppers, Onions, Zucchini and Egg Plant

Which you can make into a wonderful Grilled pasta dish (that I will talk about in a couple of days...

If you think it is going to take more than 10 minutes for you to make your side dishes you can keep your meat HOT by wrapping in aluminum foil.  This gives you plenty of time to rest the meat (have I mentioned how important that is???), make a side dish and bring out your already made Cherry Salsa to serve on top of the perfectly cooked, simply seasoned, moist, tender and Succulent Pork Chop.

It's no hamburger, but the difference in price gave me an excuse to pop for the cherries and this fantastic combination... Tell you all about that tomorrow!


So,  I am pleased to list this as one of my Growing list of  "52 Grilling Time Secret Extras" or "52 Ways to Cook BBQ and Grilling Recipes"!!!

Well over 52 recipes actually as I just can't stop... Over 100 in one grilling season (I love to grill!). But not just leat... Drinks, Condiments (LOTS of different BBQ sauces), Drinks, Desserts... even specialty items like GRILLED Pizza, and fun shaped Watermelons.  Easy and these ideas will make you the MASTER of your Backyard Domain!


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