Cooking on the Cheap: Grilled Porkchops with Honey-Balsamic Glaze

3

July 23, 2009 by skwishface

Sounds fancy, no? La-di-da, honey balsamic glaze! Never fear, for if a recipe is listed on this site then it must be easy. I am no master chef.

Let’s talk pork chops, shall we? I’ve never had much luck cooking pork. No matter what I do, it always seems to turn into shoe leather about as edible as your average hockey puck. But then I watched Food Network, and Alton Brown had this whole episode about brining. “Brine” as a verb. As something involving salt that is done to something else. Bizarre!

There’s alot of chemistry and molecular voodoo involved that I couldn’t begin to explain without getting a brain-cramp, so let’s just sum it up like this: soak a porkchop in a salty solution for several hours, and you will achieve moist and flavorful results. So, without further ado ….

The Brine
2 cups apple juice
1 cup water
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp black pepper
2 cups ice
4-5 thick cut bone-in pork chops

(wanna print this recipe? go here)

Night-time cooking = odd looking pictures

Night-time cooking = odd looking pictures

Pork chops can be super economical, but getting the thick-cut-bone-in kind can jack up the price a bit. But they’re soooo tastey and not that expensive ….

Great for the grill! Says so right on the label!

Great for the grill! Says so right on the label!

But if you’re me (and I am!), you will waste your money on these beauties unless you brine them. I can turn perfectly lovely little chops into charred and arid wastelands of flavorlessness before you can say “is flavorlessness even a word?”.

So! The brine! Grab your favorite saucepan and add the water and apple juice.

Stainless steel makes me happy.

Stainless steel makes me happy.

Simmer over medium heat for a bit, then add the salt. It will feel like you’re pouring FOR-E-VER because it’s salt. OMG salt! So much saaaaaaaaaaaallllllllt!

I wigged out a little about the salt.

I wigged out a little about the salt.

Stir that around till it dissolves. The apple juice had started smelling good when it heated up, but now it smells distinctly … briney. Which is a good thing!

Next, add the brown sugar. Stare in wonder as it sinks into the liquid too fast for you to take a picture. Then add the black pepper and whisk it all around.

Whisk optional. Mine gets used rarely, so I like to let it have a little fun.

Whisk optional. Mine gets used rarely, so I like to let it have a little fun.

Let the mixture simmer for a few minutes, till it’s all steamy and everything is dissolved. Then pour it all into a big container with two cups of ice.

Hiss-hiss-hiss, melt-melt-melt

Hiss-hiss-hiss, melt-melt-melt

The ice will further dillute the solution while simultaneously cooling it down. You want this mix to cool completely before you drop the chops in. Warm brine will only cook your chops, and that would be weird and gross and not at all what’s intended.

Next, drop the chops!

They're so pretty in their salty bath

They're so pretty in their salty bath

Make sure the chops are as fully submerged in the brine as possible, put a tight lid on the container, and pop it in the fridge for AT LEAST 4 hours. Certainly no more than 24 hours. Ideally, about 8 hours should make everything wonderful.

Once they’re out of the brine, you can do whatever you like with them. Me, I grilled them up with a glaze. Check it out!

 

Grilled Porkchops with Honey-Balsamic Glaze
4 apple-brined pork chops
1/4 cup honey
1-2 tbsps balsamic vinegar (to taste)

It’s really just that simple. You’ve already got your chops, so you just need these two charming characters:

I just realized that poor bear only has one eye!

I just realized that poor bear only has one eye!

Get your chops out of the brine, pat them dry, and set them aside to warm up to room temperature.

Not as pretty anymore. But oh lawdy will they taste good.

Not as pretty anymore. But oh lawdy will they taste good.

Measure out your 1/4 cup of honey into a microwave-safe cup.

Fact: honey tastes better when poured from a bear.

Fact: honey tastes better when poured from a bear.

Pop the honey in the microwave for about 15 seconds. This will make it more liquidy and easier to work with.

Then add your balsamic vinegar. Important: add the vinegar AFTER the microwaving, not before. Just please take my word on this – you do not want to microwave vinegar.

glug glug glug

glug glug glug

How much depends on your taste, really. As vinegars go, balsamic is pretty mild, but it’s still vinegar. If you want your chops more sweet than sour, only use about a tablespoon of the stuff. If you prefer more sour to balance the sweet, add another tablespoon. It’s all good.

Stir the honey and balsamic together, and set it aside to think about what it’s done.

Next, get your friendly neighborhood grill-pan (or actual grill, if you’re feeling outdoorsy) up to roughly the temperature of the surface of the sun. Place your chops on the grill and then LEAVE THEM ALONE.

Some might call my grill-pan "dirty". I call it "seasoned".

Some might call my grill-pan "dirty". I call it "seasoned".

I have a horrible habit of messing with meat as it cooks. I poke and prod and lift and peek, none of which is actually helpful to the cooking process. I have to actually make myself walk out of the kitchen for a few minutes, or I can’t resist the urge fuss with it. My self-control is rewarded with lovely (if not terribly artistic) grill marks.

Cook your chops for about 4 minutes on the first side, then flip. Grab your kitchen brush (or spoon, or whatever you want to use) and slather on a layer of the glaze. It’ll drip over and pool under your chops and generally make your kitchen smell like candy. This is a good thing.

Oh, and I added corn. Don't hate.

Oh, and I added corn. Don't hate.

Make sure you spread the glazey love all over those chops. Down the sides and in the crevices. Let them cook for a couple minutes, then flip. Slather on some more glaze. Don’t be shy with this stuff. It’ll caramelize on the meat and make you happy.

Let's try not to think about the almighty mess this is making on the pan.

Let's try not to think about the almighty mess this is making on the pan.

Cook for about a minute. Slather again, flip, cook for about 30 seconds, slather, flip, repeat until the glaze is all gone. Don’t cook too long – the pork can stand up to it, thanks to the brining, but there is still the danger of overcooking and drying out the meat.

Serve it up with some sides (I used corn and some apples sauteed with cinnamon and butter), and you have officially made porkchops for dinner. Yummy, moist, delicious, sweet-n-sour-y porkchops.

Why two plates? Why NOT? (I have no idea)

Why two plates? Why NOT? (I have no idea)

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3 thoughts on “Cooking on the Cheap: Grilled Porkchops with Honey-Balsamic Glaze

  1. Eva says:

    I just popped over from Tasty Kitchen. Fantastic blog you have here. I’

  2. superphreek says:

    its a sunny sunday afternoon on a small island in the middle of the pacific…me is going to make grilled pork chops..wooooohoooo…..MEAT ROCKS!!!!

  3. Bob says:

    Made this recipe but lightly smoked the chops in hickory for 1/12 hours the last hour applying the glaze every 10-15 minutes, WOW! were they great!!!

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