This recipe, from Tom Mylan's The Meat Hook Meat Book, is actually from Chef Jean Adamson of Vinegar Hill House, the Brooklyn restaurant known for their stellar pork chop. Brooklyn blood runs thick, friends in high places, and all that. However, it made its way to us, and thank goodness it did. Insanely flavorful and juicy from a 12-hour brining, the chop is Flinstonian in proportions and, I think it's fair to say, generally epic.
The brine is made with equal parts sugar and salt, with flavors of juniper, black pepper, thyme, and garlic that sink into the meat and leave it with a distinctive hammy quality which I loved. The double-cut chops themselves are cut from the shoulder end, a.k.a. blade chops, as opposed to the more common center-cut chops (gotta ask that butcher), and are therefore rimmed in thick fat that renders and chars beautifully in the pan. Despite some cooking-time issues, which I'll address below, this was absolutely one of the best pork chops I've ever had.
And, um, cheese grits with jalapeños. So, yeah, that was a good dinner.
Why I picked this recipe: It's called the Inevitable Pork Chop for a reason.
What worked: Amazing pork chop, solid cheese grits (easily enough for 4, by the way). The bites with charred fat, creamy grits and pickled jalapeños were magical.
What didn't: Unfortunately, I found the cooking time on the chops to be way off. My double-cut chops were nearly 3 inches thick, about 1 1/2 pounds each, and cooking over high heat for a total of about 12 minutes left the middle 1 1/2 inches completely raw. I put them back over medium heat, flipping frequently as instructed, for nearly 15 more minutes, and even then, there were some questionable spots.
Suggested tweaks: Take down the heat to medium high and cook to an internal temp of between 120° and 140°, depending on how well done you like your pork chops. Or, may I suggest yet again, trying out Kenji's reverse sear on these beauties?
Excerpted from The Meat Hook Meat Book by Tom Mylan (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2014. Photographs by Michael Harlan Turkell. Illustrations by Kate Bonner.
- For the Brine
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 20 juniper berries
- 20 black peppercorns
- 1 large thyme sprig
- 1 head garlic, cut horizontally in half
- 2 double-pork-bone shoulder chops, preferably Red Wattle
- 2 tablespoons grapeseed or peanut oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- For the Cheddar Grits
- 1 cup coarse grits, preferably Anson Mills
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon roughly chopped drained pickled jalapeños
You need to start this recipe 2 days ahead of time. You’re OK with that? Start by making the brine: Bring 4 cups of water to a simmer in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add all the ingredients and simmer for a few minutes more as you stir, then pour into a bowl and refrigerate overnight.
The next morning, transfer the chilled brine to a gallon Ziploc freezer bag (do not strain out the spices), place your shoulder chops in the brine, press out the excess air, and zip to close. Allow the bag to sit in your refrigerator for 12 hours.
About 2 hours before you want to eat, start the grits. Combine 2 1/2 cups water and the grits in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring frequently. As the grits continue to cook, they will thicken and you will have to add about 11/2 cups more water 1⁄21⁄21/4 cup at a time. After about
1 1/2 hours of cooking and stirring, the grits should be almost done. Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside.
Remove the chops from the brine, rinse them, and pat dry with a paper towel.
Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat, then add the oil and heat until hot. Slide the chops into the pan and cook, turning frequently (as the residual sugar from the brine tends to burn quickly), until the chops are browned and close to done, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain off the fat and add the butter to the pan. Baste and continue to flip the chops as the butter foams and starts to brown. Transfer the chops to a rack set over a platter and let rest for 5 minutes, turning them a few times.
Meanwhile, remember those grits? Place the pan over medium heat and stir in the butter. When it has completely melted into the grits, add the cheddar and stir that in as well. Add salt to taste.
Just when the cheese has melted, portion the grits evenly onto two large dinner plates and sprinkle with a spoonful of the pickled jalapeños. Place the pork chops on top and serve. It’s worth all the work. Promise.