Monday, September 29, 2008

Grilled Pork Chops with Balsamic Glazed Pears

“There is poetry in a pork chop to a hungry man.”
Philip Gibbs (NY Times 1951)
These pork chops were absolutely delicious, living up to the wonderful aroma filling the kitchen that I mentioned in my last post. I did make some alterations to the recipe, mainly in preferences and presentation.

I only made 2 pork chops instead of 6, but I'll admit they were huge -- one pound apiece! Uh, no leftovers. I made the full amount of brine called for, to be sure it covered the extra thick chops, but I substituted brown sugar, which I always use in a brine. I only used 2 large cloves of garlic -- more would have been fine.

I'll admit I was drawn to this recipe for the pears, so I used 2 large pears -- firm red ones. The Sweet D onion I used was big, so I only used one.

My one word of advice -- do not use inferior balsamic vinegar. You'll want the rich depth of sweet-tart flavor to compliment the sweetness of the onions and pears. I like the Fini Balsamic Vinegar that I get from Williams-Sonoma (about $12/btl. and also available in other places too). You can pay a lot more for balsamic vinegar, but this one is reliable and works nicely in dressings and sauces, without spending a fortune.

MFH was the grillmaster for the evening and he did an outstanding job, as you can see in the picture. We used a thermometer to test the temperature as the chops cooked and pulled them off the grill when the temp reached 150 degrees -- which was perfect. Remember, meat continues to cook after removed from the heat, so it will continue cooking while you give it the mandatory 5 - 10 minutes rest, to allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat. You know that already, don't you?

Rather than cook the sauce with the onions and pears, I elected to heat everything separately. I was afraid the subtle flavor of the pears would be overwhelmed if saturated with the balsamic sauce. I also thought the pork chops would be enhanced by the sauce, so I generously drizzled it over everything once plated. Remember, I said I made the full amount of sauce, and if I had made 6 chops, I would have wanted more. It was that good on the chop and the onions and the pears! '

Thanks to Dannie for the recipe. MFH says "it's a keeper!"

1 1/2 qts. water
5 tbsp. kosher salt
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 pork loin chops, 1-in. thick

1/2 c. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, minced

1/2 c. good balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 Vidalia onion, cut into 8 wedges with stem end attached
2 pears, cored and each cut into 8 wedges
1 tsp. salt

In a large bowl, stir together the water, kosher salt, and sugar. Add pork chops to this brine, and let them soak for no more than one hour. Drain and discard the brine. Pat pork chops dry with paper towels.

In a shallow dish, stir together the olive oil, garlic, and rosemary. Place pork chops in the dish, and turn to coat. Cover, and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1-2 hours.

Pour the balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, and cook until reduced by 1/2, about 10 minutes. When the vinegar cools, it should be the consistency of syrup.

Melt butter with olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high or high heat. Add the onions and pears, and quickly brown, being careful to keep the wedges intact. Once the onions and pears are browned, reduce heat to low, and cook for about 7 minutes, or until tender. Stir in the reduced vinegar and salt. The recipe can be prepared up to this point several hours before grilling.

Preheat the grill for medium-high heat.

Place skillet with pears on a cool part of the grill and warm them while the pork cooks. Place the pork chops over the hot part. Cook pork for about 3 minutes per side, or to desired doneness. Remove to a serving plate, cover with aluminum foil and let rest for a few minutes. Uncover, top with the pear onion sauce, and serve.


Anonymous said...

The Menu Wednesday is a terrific idea, I love it.

Cora said...

Aren't you kind! I'll look for an easy fish recipe for next week, just for you.