Mon May 28, 2007
Memorial Day weekend and the days preceding were jam packed with non-stop adventure in an effort to cram in as much as possible for our out-of-town guests. We went everywhere from the Bronx Zoo all the way down to Coney Island. Eating was non-stop as well, since how can you come to NY without eating at Burger Joint, Nathan's, Lombardi's, UFC, Pomme Frites...and the list just keeps going. So after all the weekend excitement, Monday night rolled around and I found myself oddly alone for dinner.
Cooking for one is always a challenge for me, because I find it easier, and more economical, to cook for a crowd. So I went in search for a recipe that could easily be adjusted for one, without having leftovers, since the rest of this week I'll be out and about again. I chose a Bourbon-brined pork chop, seeing as I already had all the ingredients at home (besides the meat) and it seemed like a meal well suited to make for one.
It was already 2pm when I decided that I wanted to make dinner for myself, and finding a grilling recipe that can be made with only a couple hours notice is often hard. There's usually a need to let something marinate or brine for a long time before grilling, which is sometimes essential to make sure your meat stays juicy and well flavored over the high heat of the coals. So with 3-4 hours on my hand, I was looking for something flavorful, but without a ton of prep and a short brine time. I came across these Bourbon-brined pork chops in How to Grill, a book I used a lot when I first started grilling, but barely ever pick up now. With a simple, but tasty, sounding brine and only 2-4 hours inactive time, it was just what I was looking for.
So I went out, grabbed a couple pork chops (yes, I made two for myself because I'm a fat ass) and came home and threw together the brine. I had them in by 3pm and got some work done while waiting for the liquid to do its magic. I started the fire up at 6pm, and took the chops out of the brine and dried them off. I had my reservations that only 3 hours in the brine could bring all the flavors into the meat, but the only way to know is to try it out, right? Since the cook time was only 20 mins, I opted to use hickory wood chips instead of chunks here, and once those were smoking, I threw the chops on the grill, covered and waited.
I built a two zone fire, with all the coals on one side of the grill. The pork cooked on the cool side for 20 mins, then I seared them over the hot side to get them nice and browned. Any skepticism I had about the flavors not getting into the meat was crushed on the first bite. These pork chops were seriously delicious, and I couldn't believe how just a short brine made them so flavorful. Also, only 20 min of smoking worked great, leaving a nice smoky flavor with a visible smoke ring. It didn't take long for me to devour both chops and then start thinking about when I can make these again.
Bourbon-brined Pork Chops
From How to Grill
4 loin pork chops, 1 inch thick
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
10 black peppercorns
5 allspice berries
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons coarse salt
1 cup hot water
2 cups cold water
3 tablespoons bourbon
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 handful of hickory wood chips, soaked in water for 1/2 an hour
Rinse the pork chops under cold water and dry with paper towels. Arrange the chops in a baking dish just large enough to hold them and place onion, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, allspice, and cloves over the meat.
Whisk the sugar and salt in 1 cup of hot water until dissolved. Stir in the cold water, bourbon, and oil. Pour mixture over the chops, turning the chops a couple times to coat evenly. Brine in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours, turning once to ensure even brining.
Light 1 chimney of charcoal, and when lit, dump out onto one side of the grill. Throw the hickory chips over the hot coals. When smoking, place the chops over the cold side of the grill, cover, and let cook for 20 min. Uncover the grill and move the chops directly over the hot coals. Cook until they are nicely browned, about 4 minutes per side. Let the pork chops rest for a few minutes and then serve immediately.