Friday, August 12, 2011

A Briny BBQ

There are three things that I can’t cook to save my life.  Ok, I am sure there are a lot more, but these three have always stuck out in my head.  I am happy to report that one has been crossed off the list.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I can now cook a mean pork chop.  Rice and hard boiled eggs remain ever elusive….
You read that right.  For all the things that I can cook, I have never been able to master the art of the pork chop.  They always sound like such a good idea.  “What’s for dinner?”  “Pork chops!”  It was always a disappointment.  A few weeks ago, Chris asked me to try and grill pork chops.  I said I would try, but we would probably end up at Taco Bell.  We didn’t. 
Have you heard of brining?  I knew that this was something that TV chefs like to do, especially with turkeys.  The theory behind brining is that by soaking your meat in a liquid mixture chock full of sugar and salt, your meat will absorb the flavors and become super tender.  I knew I had to try this because my pork chops end up somewhere between a tennis shoe and cardboard.
I came up with my own briny mixture.  I knew the basics were liquid/salt/sugar.  For my liquid, I used beer!  I also used some water, dried garlic, onion powder and pepper to mix in with the beer, salt and sugar.  I figured the beer would add more flavor than just water.  I was correct.
This differs from a marinade in the sense that the meat really swims in this mixture as opposed to just soaking in a bit of flavor/moister.  I used a really big sealable bowl.
I used 4 bone-in pork chops.  I popped the lid on this and let the chops swim in the brine for 4 hours.  They did this in the fridge.  This is a cold swim, not a hot tub.  You could let your chops swim all day while you are at work, but I wouldn’t go more than about 8 hours, or less than 3.
While the chops soaked, the salt and sugar worked on the cells in the meat, breaking them down.  This makes the meat super tender.  You may now refer to me as “Bill Nye, the Science Guy”.  What’s that you say?  Somebody is already called that?
I grilled my chops on my BBQ.  As the BBQ heated up, I took the chops out of the brine and dried them off with paper towels.  Don’t worry, the chops won’t be super salty when they are done.  I promise.
My chops weren’t super thick, so they grilled pretty quickly.  It took about 2 minutes each side to sear them.  Then, I put the lid on and let them finish cooking through, about 5 minutes.  At the end, I basted my chops with Gourmet Rooster Carolina Style BBQ sauce, which is a mustard based BBQ sauce.  Mustard and pork are great friends.
Eureka!  Juicy, tender pork chops!  The brine really works.  The chops tasted smoky and delicious, with a slight hint of beer and mustard.  Like I said above, they don’t taste salty or too sweet from the brine.  They ended up fantastic! 
You have to try brining pork chops.  It is such an easy way to get really delicious and tender pork chops.  And now, I shall set my sights on hard boiled eggs and rice.
I couldn’t just serve pork chops without a really yummy side dish.  I made my Grilled Sweet Potato German Potato Salad.  A German Potato Salad is different then a typical potato salad in the sense that it doesn’t have mayonnaise in it.  It has a slightly sweet vinegar based dressing instead.  And it is amazing.  I will show you how I make it.
The actual salad components are simple.  I use 4 sweet potatoes, bacon and green onions. 
I start by par-boiling the sweet potatoes.  This just means that I threw them in a pot with water and boiled them until they were fork tender, about 20 minutes.  I didn’t peel them or cut them for this step.  I put the whole potatoes in cold water.  Once the water came to a boil, I set the timer for 20 minutes.

Once the potatoes cooled enough that I could touch them without getting third degree burns, I sliced them into wedges.

I coated the potatoes with some olive oil and salt and pepper.

I grilled the potatoes for about 2 minutes each side.  These will go quick!  If the skins char, just peel them off and throw that part away.

The dressing for this salad is more Gourmet Rooster Carolina Style BBQ sauce, sugar, apple cider vinegar, olive oil and salt & pepper.

When the potatoes were done grilling, I chopped them into bite sized pieces and mixed them in with the bacon and green onions.  Once the dressing was mixed, I poured that over the top and mixed again, gently.

This salad gets better the longer it sits.  It is perfect for a potluck because it can sit on the table and nobody has to worry about getting food poisoning from rotten mayo.  I love mayo as much as the next guy, probably more, but I think this salad is the perfect potato salad.  The grilled sweet potatoes are so much better than boiled white potatoes.  I hate to be potato racist, but it’s the truth.
This is such a yummy BBQ meal.  And it is different than your typical burgers, dogs or steaks.  You have to try it!  Seriously, I have spouting the wonders of brining to anyone that will listen.  I will check to see if there is a fan club.
Beer Brined Pork Chops
4 bone-in pork chops
1 bottle of beer
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup salt
1 cup water
1 tablespoon minced, dried garlic
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
Gourmet Rooster Carolina Style BBQ Sauce for basting and serving
In a large bowl, combine beer, water, salt, sugar, garlic, onion powder and pepper.  Submerge pork chops in mixture.  Place lid on bowl and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
Pre-heat grill.  Take chops out of brine and dry off well.  Sear chops over high heat for about 2 minutes per side.  Move chops to indirect heat and continue cooking until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Baste chops with BBQ sauce at the end of cooking.   Let rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Grilled Sweet Potato German Potato Salad
4 large sweet potatoes
½ cup green onions, diced
10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 tablespoons Gourmet Rooster Carolina Style BBQ sauce
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
½ cup olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
Par boil sweet potatoes until fork tender, about 20 minutes.  Let cool, and slice into wedges.  Coat wedges with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.
Grill wedges over direct heat for about 1 to 2 minutes per side.  Let cool and chop into bite sized pieces.  Add grilled potatoes to green onions and bacon.  Combine remaining ingredients to make dressing and pour over salad.  Serve warm or cold.

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