As I noted earlier, nearly all of the recipes (including this one) are designed to serve 6 to 8 people, which presents a problem if you're not cooking for a dinner party and just cooking for 2 to 4 (or 2.5 in my case).
Nevertheless, in actually tackling one of the recipes, this did not turn aout to be a huge deal. Taking Lang's recipe for grilled thick-cut pork chops for a test-drive, I cut the amount of meat in half and just left the ingredient amounts for the marinade as is. So, although some food was wasted, the dish wouldn't ultimately be affected.
Another quibble: Despite the simplicity of the book and its approach, instructions on using the recipes for a gas grill are left wanting. In an introductory glossary, Lang writes that natural lump charcoal is the ideal heat source for grilling, making no mention of gas. Can't argue with that, but I am one of the countless people who still owns a gas grill, and there's no indication as to whether the recipes can or even should be adapted for gas grilling.
After marinating the pork chops overnight in a brine made mainly of apple juice, sugar, salt, and thyme (see below), I dried them off, rubbed them with canola oil, and placed them on my gas grill. While the chops were cooking, Lang instructs to head a pan, on top of the grill, with the ingredients for an apple compote. As the compote's ingredients melt and caramelize, the idea is to move the chops back and forth from the grill to the pan to coat them in the compote and then back again.
This was kind of fun, but the all of the sugars in the compote (not to mention the overnight brine) meant the outside of the chops started charring pretty quickly. I liked the grilling method and the sweet and savory flavor of the compote, but I would definitely delay this step until later in the cooking process to avoid turning the chops into briquettes. Despite the charring, the brine was a great success. It really transformed the texture and flavor of the meat all the way through.
Pork Chops (Rib & Saddle) Cut Over 1"
by Adam Perry Lang, BBQ 25
Six-eight 12-16 oz. pork rib or loin chops
Ingredients for Flavored Brine
2 cups apple juice
1 cup cold water
3 Tbsp sea salt or kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
5 garlic cloves, crushed
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
Ingredients for Seasoning
Sea salt or kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Canola oil or vegetable oil
Ingredients for Apple Compote
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
10 fresh sage leaves
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp light brown sugar
6 Tbsp grated or finely diced green apple
- Combine all the brine ingredients in a large bowl or sealable plastic bag.
- Mix and crush the ingredients with your hands, directly or through the bag, squeezing them to release the maximum flavor.
- Put the chops in the brine and allow to absorb the flavors for at least 3 hours, and, preferably for 24 hours. If brining for longer than 3 hours, refrigerate the chops.
- Preheat the BBQ to medium-high. Drain the chops and dry with paper towels. Season lightly with salt and pepper and glisten with canola oil.
- Put the chops on the well-oiled grill and cook to desired doneness.
- Meanwhile, put a foil pan or heatproof pan on the grill, add all the compote ingredients, and stir occasionally to melt the butter and dissolve the sugar.
- Once a crust begins to develop on the chops, transfer the chops back and forth between the grill and the compote as they cook, using tongs to turn and baste them in the compote. Stack and flip the meat as necessary if the flames get out of control.
- When the chops are nicely caramelized and charred on both sides, approximately 1 to 25 minutes total, they are done. (You can check the temp with an instant-read thermometer if that is more comfortable; they should register 160 degrees F).
- Pour the board dressing onto a cutting board and slice the chops, turning to coat the slices. Alternatively serve the chops unsliced, with the dressing drizzled over the top.
Recipe reprinted with permission from the publisher.