Savory Grilled Pork Chops

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Disclaimer: I received compensation and promotional gifts for this post. The opinions and text are all mine, except where otherwise stated.

This is the pork chop I've always wanted to cook: a crusty, slightly glazed exterior with just the right amount of char and a tender, juicy interior that's well seasoned throughout. Unlike my previous post which utilized thin cut chops and is easy to prepare on a stovetop grill pan, this is the kind of pork chop that requires the high heat only an outdoor grill can achieve. This pork chop screams for fire and smoke. I have tried every conceivable method of perfecting pork chops in a cast iron skillet, some more successful than others. But in my opinion, even the most expertly prepared pan seared pork chop doesn't compare to a perfectly grilled pork chop. For that reason I'm really excited to share this recipe in coordination with the National Pork Board's "Pork's Got Your Grill Covered" campaign, my second of three posts this month. I'll even be giving away grill kits and $100 Walmart gift cards for a few lucky readers, so make sure you catch those directions at the end of the post!

Update 8/21/05: This contest has ended.

For this recipe, you'll definitely want to pick up some thick grilled center cut pork chops - about an inch to inch and a half thick is perfect. If you can spring it, try looking for Berkshire pork chops. They're exceptionally flavorful due to the heritage breed of pig and special care taken in raising the animal. This pork chop gets its seasoning and color with the help of a dry brine, so you'll want to plan ahead at least four hours before you plan to grill, up to a day in advance. The extra savory, umami rich flavor of this chop is due in part to the addition of dried mushroom powder in the dry brine rub. It's a secret ingredient I've found that works for everything from chicken to steak. If you're ready to be convinced, read on to the recipe!

Savory Grilled Pork Chops

2 center cut pork chops, at least 1" thick (about 2 lbs)
2 tsp Kosher salt (adjust per lbs pork - 1 tsp per pound)
2 tsp brown sugar (adjust per lbs pork - 1 tsp per pound)
1 tbsp ground dried Porcini or Shiitake mushrooms
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
1 lemon
Neutral high smoke point oil, for grilling

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 10 min, plus at least 4 hours to brine
Cook Time: 30 min
Suggested Equipment: Charcoal or gas grill set up for indirect heat, coffee or spice grinder, instant read meat thermometer

Once you taste the difference in adding mushroom powder to a spice rub, you won't go back. It doesn't necessarily make your food taste like mushrooms (unless you add a ton) but it does add a distinct savoriness. It will give anything a more meaty flavor. I buy these small packs of porcini and shiitake dried mushrooms, grind them up and keep the ground mix on hand to easily add to any blend. They're also great for adding to soups and stocks for the same reasons. To grind, simply fill up a small coffee or spice grinder with a few dried mushrooms and pulverize until no large pieces remain.

Combine a tablespoon of dried mushroom powder with the salt, sugar, black pepper, garlic, paprika, pepper flakes and herbs. Rub into both pork chops. That's your dry brine. Transfer to the fridge, uncovered. The salt will first draw moisture out of the pork chop to the surface of the meat, and then work its way back into the interior of the flesh. That's why it's important to give the meat sufficient time to brine - at least 4 hours, but it's okay to leave them in the fridge up to a day before you plan to grill. The color of the pork chops will become a deeper pink and the texture will take on a slightly sticky sheen. The more time you give the chops to dry out, the better sear you'll get on the grill.

When you're ready to cook, set up your grill for indirect heat. Rub your grill grates with oil (canola, grape seed or safflower are all good choices) and place the pork chops down on the hotter side of the grill. Cover the grill and let them sear and develop a crust, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the chops over and sear the other side. At this point I like to check the internal temperature of the chop so I have an idea of how much longer they'll need to cook. Move the chops to the cooler side of the grill, cover and cook until the chops reach desired internal temperature.

There will be a little bit of pink in the interior (perfectly fine, ideal even) if you pull the chops off between 140° and 145° F. If you're serving people a little squeamish about that, you can take them safely up to about 150°F without noticeable dryness. Beyond that, you're dangerously close to overcooking such a lean cut of meat. Just remember that as the chops rest, residual heat will take the temperature up as much as 5° or so.

When the chops come off the grill, squeeze some lemon juice over them and give them a pinch of salt. Even better if you grilled your lemons while the pork chops cooked! Let the chops rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

These were phenomenal. The dry brine really pulls in a ton of flavor and keeps the chops tender and moist inside. The addition of brown sugar to the brine helps to give the pork chops color and a slight glaze, and the mushroom powder and herbs add just the right amount of savory seasoning to make every bite perfect.

As I revealed in my last post, I have a few grilling kits and $100 gift cards that I'd love to give to a few lucky readers! To enter your chance to win, leave a comment below describing your ultimate bbq dinner featuring grilled pork. If you've already told me about your meal on the previous post, your entry has been received! I'll choose my favorite pork inspired meals on August 21, 2015 and announce the winners that week here on my blog. Please share this post to Twitter or Facebook with hashtags #grillporksweeps and #kitchenista to help spread the word!

Sponsor's Message: "No matter what you celebrate this grilling season... Pork's Got Your Grill Covered!" Visit to share your grilling holiday and find great recipes and grilling tips. Win free groceries for a year and other great prizes!

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