Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Smoked Pork Chops

My sister-in-law was kind enough to give me The Cook's Illustrated Guide to Grilling and Barbecue. It's been a great source not just for recipes, but grilling philosophy. The book, for example, picks apart the different types of pork chop you can wind up with (blade chop, rib chop, center-cut chop and sirloin chop) and talks about what their "tasters" found to be the best. Until I read that I'd never thought about the fact that pork chops don't all look the same--let alone taste the same.

Speaking of pork chops, I came home from the grocery store with these bad boys to perform the Grill-Smoked Pork Chops with Apple Chutney recipe from the afore-mentioned book.

You get the idea by now. They were enormous. I specifically told the butcher that I wanted center cut chops cut 2 inches thick. He tried to look non-plussed, but you could tell he was a little curious. He said it would take him a few minutes, so I went off for the rest of my supplies.
Well, ok. One more shot. See? Huge.
When I swung back over to the meat counter he and I did start chatting a bit. When I told him what I was about to do he said that he used to work at a steak restaurant in Kansas that smoked chops like this and called it "Charlie Brown" style. I did an internet search and came up empty-handed. Anyone heard of Pork Chop Charlie Brown?

So according to the recipe you let these beasts come to room temperature for about 1 hour. Season the chops generously with salt and pepper and you set them on the grill bone-side down over an indirect fire at 350f, which has some soaked wood chips on it. In this case I used apple wood, which I think gives pork a nice, subtle smoke flavor. Then you cook them for 30-45 minutes until you get an internal meat temperature of 145f away from the bone.

Meanwhile you cook up some apple chutney to go with them.

Chutney Ingredients:
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced into 1/2 inch dice
1/2 small onion, minced (about 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed (about 2 teaspoons)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground all spice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch dice

Directions for Chutney:
Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the bell pepper, onion, ginger and garlic. Cover, reduce the heat to medium and cook until the vegetables have softened (about 5 minutes). Stir in the vinegar, brown sugar, mustard seeds, allspice and cayenne and bring to a simmer. Cook until syrupy. The recipe said 10 minutes, but I simmered and simmered and never really reduced it down to the suggested 1 1/4 cups. Once you've simmered, remove from heat, transfer to a medium bowl and cool.

Next heat 1 tablespoon of remaining vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add half of the apples and cook, stirring until browned on all sides (about 4 minutes). Add to the medium bowl with the reduction. Repeat with the remaining apples and vegetable oil. Toss the chutney to combine.

Behold our non-syrupy chutney.

And behold this big old pork chop.

 The verdict: So I will say that I wound up salting these too much for my taste. Saltiness aside they were a big success. Very tender, juicy and good flavor. My next-door neighbor and grilling comrade was pretty jazzed about these things actually. The biggest hit from this recipe in my house? The chutney. The sweet, acidic flavor of it helped cut through the salt factor for sure. This was a fun way to do pork chops and I will probably try it again at some point--with a little less salt next time.


  1. I love a great loin chop that has both the loin and tenderloin like that, it's a pork porterhouse steak! I'd probably pull mine at 137f or so, so they finish at 145f after a rest period. They look really good.

  2. Thanks Chris. Yes! These were like porterhouse chops! Very tasty. Good suggestion about pulling them early. That always makes me a shade nervous with pork. I'm never sure it's going to actually rise up those last few degrees, but I *know* it does.