Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ginger Garlic Pork Chops

Is there any part of a pig that isn't delicious? I say no.
Just a few days ago, the government decided to give its official seal of approval to pork chops with a little pink left in them. Apparently, since farms stopped feeding raw meat to the pigs, the danger of trichinosis has dropped dramatically. Most cases these days seem to be caused by eating undercooked meat from wild game. Also, freezing meat kills the parasites that cause trichinosis, so if you're pulling your pork chops out of the freezer, I guess you can just dig right in to a tasty pork-cicle without fear.

If you're a sane person, though, you might want to cook your chops. While I don't personally like a rare pork chop, I also don't cook mine to a crisp. I try to get them just to the point where they're done all the way through and then stop. If I can manage to pull them off of the heat while they're still a little pink in the middle and then let them coast to a stop just past medium-well while they rest, even better.

Given that I cook my pork chops well past where I cook a steak, I think it's important to marinate them to increase their moisture and flavor content. When cooking pork, I usually use apple juice as a base for my marinade, because pork and apples have a long history of being eaten together. Also, since pork chops have a high surface area to mass ratio, they don't need a very long time in the marinade, so it's easy to do this dish even if you haven't planned very far in advance.

I picked up some smoked paprika recently, and I love it.
You may have noticed that it's made several appearances in recent posts.


1 1/4 cup apple juice
4 cloves garlic (minced)
1 tsp ginger (minced)
1 tbsp salt (plus a little extra to season the outside of the chops)
1 tsp black pepper (plus a little extra to season the outside of the chops)
1 tsp smoked paprika
4 pork chops


Plastic Zip-top Bag
Grill (or Grill Pan)
Blender (recommended)

A few hours before you plan to cook the pork chops, make the marinade. Combine the apple juice, garlic, ginger, salt, pepper, and paprika in a blender and pulse a few times to combine.

If you've got a good blender, you probably don't have to mince the garlic and ginger very much.
Just put them in and let the blender do the work.

Put the pork chops in a plastic zip-top bag and add the marinade. Get as much air as you can out of the bag and seal the top. Put the bag in the refrigerator and let the pork chops sit for a few hours.

I let mine marinate while I went to Crossfit.

After a few hours, remove the pork chops from the bag and pat them dry with a paper towel. (Discard the marinade.) Season both sides of the pork chops with a little salt and pepper.

Adding a little salt to the outside of the meat helps it sear properly on the grill. Pepper just tastes good.

Grill the pork chops over a high heat for three minutes, then rotate them ninety degrees. Grill them for three more minutes on the first side, and then flip them to the second side for another three minutes. Rotate them ninety degrees and finish grilling the second side for three more minutes. (You should have grilled the pork chops for a total of 12 minutes by the end.)

Rotating them ninety degrees on each side is what gives them those cool grill marks

Remove the pork chops from the grill and let them rest for five minutes before serving.

I usually let meat rest on a slightly elevated rack, so that the meat doesn't get soggy on the bottom.

  • The times I stated for grilling are designed to work with relatively thick pork chops. The ones in the pictures were maybe an inch thick. If your pork chops are thinner than that, decrease the cooking time a little. if they're thicker, increase it a little.
  • My pork chops had a bone in them, but this would work just as well for boneless chops. I do recommend cooking meat with the bone in whenever possible, though. I don't know why, but the meat turns out better if it's still on the bone.
  • Smoked paprika is getting easier and easier to find, but if you don't have any, it's not a big deal. You could leave it out or substitute regular paprika. The main flavors in the marinade really come from the ginger and the garlic.
  • Resting cooked meat for a few minutes is the easiest way to improve your steaks, pork chops, chicken, etc. If you cut into a piece of meat right after it comes off of the heat, a lot of juice will run out, and the meat will be dry. Letting it rest a few minutes allows the meat to hang onto its juice when you cut into it.
  • If you're a stickler for trivial differences in terminology, my marinade may not actually have enough acid in it to be a true marinade. It may be better to call it a brine. Of course, if that's something you want to quibble about, you're probably not the kind of person who gets invited to a lot of parties, if you know what I mean.

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