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Grill the Best Pork Chops

August 9, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABeing from a home town with the world’s largest outdoor pork barbeque it was not uncommon – and still isn’t today – to grill 25,000 butterfly pork chops and pork patties. Every year Kewanee, Illinois hosts Hog Days over the Labor day weekend with a parade and celebration of all things hog from the grill to a live barrow (that’s castrated male pigs) show as has been done for over 50 years.

At one time this area had more hogs than anywhere in the world before confinement systems changed the numbers. Other than ham and bacon, pork chops are a favorite treat any time of year but it’s important to know how to cook pork chops. Too much and it dries out, but they need to be thoroughly cooked for food safety reasons.

Grilling pork chops is ideal as it sears the meat, locking the flavor in. Various rubs or seasonings can add to the taste. Although a commercially prepared seasoning is used at the hog day bbq there are many kinds you can create and use. Many cookbooks have general tips on how to grill meat but make sure to take into account the thickness of your pork chops to cook thoroughly while maintaining flavor.

The true pork chop fan understands the different types of chops. There’s the loin chops which are from the lower part of the pork loin beneath the ribs and the rib chops, which come from the center of the pork loin with a visible rib bone. Sirloin chops come from near the hips and typically are more marbled while blade chops are also marbled but from the shoulder area. These can be bone in or butterflied. Selection of a quality cut of meat can make a big difference in the final product.

When considering how to grill pork chops go for flavor! Think rubs – mixtures of spices and herbs that are worked into the meat – or marinades – which contain herbs and spices with an acid (often cider vinegar, lemon juice or fruit juice) and oil. Either of these allowed to set in/on the meat helps with flavor. Sauces such as prepared BBQ sauce, brines, toppings and even stuffed pork chops offer a variety of tasty ideas.

Generally pork absorbs marinades and other tastes very well and when grilling you can get away with a thicker cut boneless than with bone in for the same time. Remember to insure cooking to 160 all the way through for food safety. Food safety is important in the home as well as in processing of food.

For example combine a tablespoon of brown sugar with 1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder and 1/4 teaspoon EACH salt, pepper and cumin. Rub thoroughly into four pork chops, allowing to stand while the grill preheats. Grill 8-10 minutes over medium fire.

Combine lime juice, Mrs. Dash seasoning and coarse ground pepper and spread over pork loin roast or chops – grill until done through.

Still another popular pork chop is cajun grilled – combine 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon EACH cayenne pepper, black pepper and garlic powder, a teaspoon dried sage and tablespoon of paprika and coat chops thoroughly. Grill 1-1/2 inch thick chops 7-8 minutes per side, turning once. Heaven!!

With the medium heat you want to “hard sear” the surface six minutes on each side for boneless chops of 3/4 to one inch while bone in you’ll want to select closer to the 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thickness.

Pork is an economical, easily cooked and tasty addition to summertime grilling. Add some potatoes, stuffing or fresh from the garden grilled vegetables and it’s a meal fit for a king!

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