Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Grilled Pork Chops with Fresh Plum Chutney

Grilled Pork Chops with Fresh Plum Chutney
Serves 4
Grilled Pork Chops with Fresh Plum Chutney 
Here is a fresh twist on a summer favorite…grilled pork chops. What a summer time treat when plums are ripe. Indian spices can play up the sour kick from the plum skins, and both are fantastic with pork’s natural sweetness. Pork is the “other white meat” as well as relatively inexpensive, tender and flavorful.  It is quite a bit leaner than similar cuts of beef. USDA recently announced that pork could be safely cooked to 145 degrees F followed by a three-minute rest time, resulting in juicy and tender pork. This recipe is a little more complex, but well worth the effort!

Last fall, I posted a blog titled “Brined Pork Chop with Fennel Pollen” (cookingwithlarue.blogspot.com/2012/09/brined-pork-chops-with-fennel-pollen.html). It is truly an amazing pork chop that follows a three-day brine. While I might not always brine for three days, I truly do always brine both pork and chicken for as long as time allows…at least overnight.  See the brine recipe that was posted – but if time is tight, a simple mix of sugar, salt and water with an overnight soak will make for a demonstrable improvement in flavor, texture and tenderness in the pork chop. Brining is a powerful tool as it cures meat and seasons it uniformly. Because of the osmotic effect of salt, the meat actually retains more moisture after cooking.

For Simple Pork Brine:
  • ¾ C coarse Kosher salt *
  • ¾ C granulated sugar
  • 1 C boiling water
  • 1 Gallon cold water
  • 1 Tb black pepper
*All salts are not equal. 1 C table salt = 1½ C Morton Kosher salt = 2C Diamond Crystal Kosher salt

Grilled Pork Chops with Fresh Plum Chutney
  • 1 lb. small firm-ripe red-purple plums, such as Santa Rosa, halved and pitted
  • 1 Serrano chili, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 C sliced green onions
  • 2 Tb cider vinegar
  • 3 Tb dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tb finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1½ tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1-2 dried bay leaves
  • 1 tsp crushed coriander seeds
  • About 2 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 2 tsp black pepper, divided
  • 3 ½ Tb olive oil, divided
  • 1 Tb ground coriander
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 4 pork loin rib chops
  • 3 Tb coarsely chopped cilantro 
For the Brine, mix kosher salt, sugar, pepper and 1 C boiling water. Mix until sugar and salts are dissolved. Add 1 gallon cold water. Once completely cool, submerge the 4 pork loin chops and store in a refrigerator at least 12 hours, preferably overnight and up to 3 days.

Chop half to two-thirds of the quantity of plums. Put halved and chopped plums, the chile and green onions in a deep medium bowl; set aside. Microwave vinegar and 2 Tb sugar until steaming, about 30 seconds, then stir until sugar dissolves. 
Onions & chilies
Put ginger, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, bay leaves, crushed coriander and 1 tsp each salt and pepper in a small bowl.
Spices for the chutney
Heat 2 Tb oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add ginger mixture and cook, stirring, until mustard seeds start to pop, 15 – 30 seconds. Remove from heat and stir until cumin seeds are a shade darker 1-2 minutes. Add vinegar-sugar mixture. 

Spices with vinegar-sugar mixture
Stir into plum mixture and let chutney stand for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Chutney can be made 1 day ahead. Cover, chill and rewarm before serving.
Final chutney product
Meanwhile, heat a grill to medium (350 to 450 degrees F) Combine ground coriander and lemon zest in a bowl. If pork has not been brined, add remaining 1 tsp salt and pepper to this mixture. Pull pork from brine, rinse and dry. About 20 minutes before serving, rub pork chops with remaining 1½ Tb oil, then with coriander mixture. Taste chutney and add more sugar if you like.
Prepping the meat
Grill meat covered, turning over once, until barely pink in center, 12-15 minutes.  Internal temperature should be 140-145 degrees. Transfer to a platter and let rest 5 minutes. Stir cilantro into chutney. Set pork chops on plates and spoon chutney and juices on top.
With manly grill marks!
The ideal chutney balances sweet, spicy, and savory, and that’s what we’ve done with this plum version. The mustard seed and plums play off each other for a condiment that’d dress up anything from grilled chicken to a grilled pork chop. Leftover chutney could also be used on a tuna fish sandwich, on top of grill duck breast, chicken or quail.

A California Pinot Noir is the quintessential wine with pork. Other choices would be a fruity Zinfandel, Syrah or Merlot. If white wines are your preference, serve with a California Chardonnay. However, recognize that with the vinegar-based chutney, if too heavy-handed with the vinegar, will make any wine pairing challenging. However, in this case, the sweetness of the plums and Indian spices render this unproblematic. So, open your favorite wine and enjoy a truly summer grilled special meal.


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