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bust out the chops

Recipe: grilled pork chops

I managed to run my first ever half-marathon distance this week… well, it was 14.2 miles. That still counts! Jeremy and I have somehow convinced ourselves that ultra trail running is worth trying this summer. We’ve been training. Snowline is hovering around 10,000 feet, so running trails that climb high and go far has been limited – but it’s melting. I’ve always been impatient for the intermediate stage where the snow is degrading too quickly to ski, but is still an obstacle to running or biking. Meanwhile, I’ve been doing my best to clean out the freezer and refrigerator in order to make space for summer’s bounty.

used up all my old frozen bananas for chocolate chip banana bread

My parents flew in to Colorado this week. I usually stock their place with a few groceries (including a loaf of that chocolate chip banana bread), fresh flowers, and other things they might need before they arrive. Even though they are getting older and slowing down, they aren’t really slowing down. Dad always wants to know what The Plan is, so it’s my job to do the research and make The Plan.

mom and dad at the denver botanic gardens

Jeremy and I took my folks to the Denver Botanic Gardens to see the Chihuly exhibit that officially opens June 14th, but had most of the installations up this week before the opening. It’s such a gorgeous time of year to visit because it isn’t too hot (as Denver goes) and so many beautiful flowers were in bloom with happy bees, dragonflies, and birds zipping about. The Chihuly exhibit will be at DBG through November 2014 and it is definitely worth a trip if you are in the area.

Of course, this weekend is Father’s Day, so we’re having Mom and Dad up for a nice dinner. I’m preparing a menu of All Things Dad Loves. But Dad pointed out that he really wanted to see his “little girl”, and he did not mean me. He meant Kaweah. She’s going to be utterly thrilled to visit with him.

Today’s recipe is all about summer, grilling, and celebrating dads and fathers and papas and babas and all of the good folk who step up to be a father to someone. It’s simple and easy, and isn’t that all we want in June when we should be spending our time playing outside and rejoicing in summer’s arrival?

pork chops, water, cider vinegar, kosher salt, brown sugar, juniper berries, black pepper, red pepper flakes, thyme

combine the dry ingredients

add the water and vinegar

stir to dissolve the sugar and salt

I’m always looking for ways to prepare juicy, tender meat on the grill. The grill is the one place where you tend to encounter dried out steaks, chops, chicken… Dry brining is one of my favorite techniques, but I’m always open to trying wet brines too. Most of the time to prepare this dish is spent brining in the refrigerator.

place the pork chops in a large ziploc bag

pour the brine in

let brine overnight

Give yourself an hour or so before grilling to remove the pork chops from the brine. Drain the brining liquid off and pat the pork chops dry. Let them rest and come to room temperature for at least 30 minutes before you grill. Before you throw them over hot coals or over a hot burner, pat them dry once more. The first time I tried this, I think they were a little damp and didn’t sear well. They seared better the second time I made this recipe when I patted them dry once more before grilling. Sear the pork chops on high heat for the first few minutes, then move them to indirect heat to finish cooking. Once they’re done, let them rest in a foil tent for ten minutes before serving.

pat dry

sear the chops


We enjoyed these juicy, flavorful pork chops very much. I really wish I could have gotten more browning on the outsides and am wondering if pan-searing is the way to go. But that sort of defeats the purpose of beautifully simple grilling. Perhaps I’ll revisit dry rubs? It just means more pork chop research is required – but this recipe is a great kick off for the summer season.

pork chops with summer sides

bon appétit

Grilled Pork Chops
[print recipe]
slightly modified from Williams-Sonoma

4 cups water
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp juniper berries
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
4 tbsps kosher salt
1 tbsp black pepper, freshly ground

4 bone-in pork chops at least 1-inch thick

Combine the water, vinegar, sugar, thyme, juniper berries, red pepper, salt, and black pepper in a bowl or a large ziploc bag. Stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add the pork chops to the brine and cover with plastic or seal the bag. Refrigerate overnight. Remove the pork chops from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before grilling. Discard the brine and pat the chops dry with paper towels. Let come to room temperature. Heat your grill to high. If using coals, pile the coals to one half of the grill. Sear the pork chops for 2-3 minutes per side over direct heat (over direct flame or directly over the coals). Once nicely seared, move the pork chops to indirect heat (turn off one of your gas burners or set on the half of the grill not over the coals). Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the internal temperature of the pork chop registers 145°F in the center (away from the bone). Remove the pork chops from the grill and tent with foil for 10 minutes. Serves 4.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

teriyaki pork chops mushu pork burger barbecue chicken honey barbecued chicken

16 nibbles at “bust out the chops”

  1. cherie says:

    awww so sweet about kaweah :)

    and that installation is STUNNING! thank you for sharing the pictures!

    The chops sound yummy – for browning on the grill perhaps slap a cast iron pan on there and do other things to the side?

    Enjoy your parents visit!

  2. Marissa Drake says:

    His work looks phenomenal outside! Wish I was in CO.

  3. Kristin says:

    Mmmmm….love those Chihuly photos. We’re passing through Denver in July, so I think I’d better see if this is a possibility!

  4. Kristin says:

    Oh, and ultra trail running? Wow! We have a friend who does those crazy 50 & 100 milers. Are you planning to do those kinds of things? Congrats on the 14.2, especially on trails! Beats my road max distance by a few miles!

  5. Nan says:

    I envy you still having your parents — and the Chihuly installation at the DBG! It always amazes me that his group can make glass into something that seems so at home in natural surroundings. We’ve been major Chihuly fans for about 25 years, since we first saw a traveling installation in Dayton. Since then, we travel to wherever we can to see anything Chihuly. It’s amazing how many out of the way places have some major pieces of his work, like Columbus Indiana. That artsy little town has a Chihuly chandelier hanging in the Columbus Visitors Center and sells original Chihuly pieces in their gift shop. There’s also a Chihuly stained glass panel installation in the Columbus Learning Center. The Cincinnati Art Museum also has a stunning Chihuly chandelier hanging in it’s main hall. Fantastic glass… enough said!

    Your pork chops look delish! I always brine mine before grilling. Makes such a difference!

  6. meagn says:

    pretty pretty pictures! that’s a funny tidbit about your dad wanting to see his little girl ;D

    since you mentioned a dry rub..maybe instead you could try using the same brine ingredients and time of brining as in your recipe, minus the vinegar and water! i think that could help the pork chops sear up better because there would be no added water around it. kenji’s article on the food lab at serious eats about ‘dry’ brining comes to mind.

  7. Marin says:

    Gorgeous. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. GORGEOUS.

  8. Pey-Lih says:

    You’ve got some good looking parents! And KUDOS to you for doing the half marathon. I used to run, but now I don’t know if i can even run a 5K with my cycling legs. I think all your training will pay off to get ready, so stick with it. The pork chops look good….

  9. Candice says:

    Wow! the Chihuly photos were beautiful. If I were in Denver, I would definitely check out this exhibit.

    Your pork chops looked delicious. Also, I noticed a bowl of melon, cucumbers, and tomato in your photo. What kind of salad is that? It looks very yummy. Please share. =)

  10. Miss Tori says:

    You can lightly brush the twice patted dry chops with some light oil – canola or olive (not EVOO) – prior to grilling. That will help with browning them without changing your flavor profile.

  11. Rocky Mountain Woman says:

    The chops look wonderful. I love brined pork!

    Happy Father’s Day!

  12. farmerpam says:

    Lovely photos. Such a lucky girl, that Kaweah. Congrats on your running!

  13. jill says:

    How long does it take you to run 14+ at that altitude? You constantly amaze me…

    Thanks for sharing your family, and puppy baby, Kaweah!

    I hope I run into your dad at Superior Liquors again! That was a treat.

  14. jenyu says:

    cherie – I will have to experiment and see what gives me the best browning, but I’m sure a skillet would do the trick :)

    Marissa – I love Chihuly’s vision. Amazing!

    Kristin – yes, you should definitely see it! Yes, our friend convinced Jeremy to do those crazy races. I’m perfectly happy under 50 miles, thank you very much ;)

    Nan – I’ve first seen Chihuly in Seattle and Tacoma and then a friend who works at Amgen took us to their corporate office on a weekend to see a gorgeous installation of Chihuly’s in one of their buildings. Since then, I’ve been a little obsessed ;)

    megan – yep, I’ll have to experiment.

    Marin – :)

    Pey-Lih – thanks.

    Candice – Oh, it’s just a salad I threw together as a side. I’ll post that recipe this summer (I’ve already shot it for the archives last summer).

    Miss Tori – great tip – thanks!

    Rocky Mountain Wman – :)

    farmerpam – thanks xo

    jill – well, it depends on how much elevation climb is involved, but more than 3 hours for me. Jeremy ran 21 miles that day.

  15. Melanie says:

    How great that your dad loves Kaweah too. She’s got so many people who love her deeply. I keep hearing abotu the Chihuly exhibit. Definitely planning to get there. Probably nice to see it in daylight and then again at night. Great job on your trail running! You’re inspiring!

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