Opinion by Anne L. Miller
Up In Smoke: Grilling Tips for Those in (Dire) Need
By Anne L. Miller, Executive Director of the Wyoming Pork Producers Council
It happens to the best of us. Beautiful pork chops on the grill, friends chatting away and, suddenly, the smoke cloud takes over. You rush to the grill, lift the lid and see chops now bearing great likeness to little black arched Frisbees. The only one enthused about this summer operation now is the family dog.
It doesn’t have to end this way. Meat is supposed to be flavorful, juicy and tender. By meat, I don’t just mean beef. Even you cowboys reading this will admit that sometimes, occasionally, perhaps you mightenjoy pork ribs, chops or bacon.
Pork producers are making life even easier by using familiar terms for old cuts. They include the Pork Porterhouse Chop, previously a loin chop; Pork Ribeye Chop, bone-in, previously a rib chop center; Pork Ribeye Chop, previously a rib chop; and Pork New York Chop, previously a top loin chop.
Back to the whole “I-lit-the-things-on-fire” problem. May I suggest cooking pork in the 145 degree Fahrenheit to 160 degree Fahrenheit range? With the exception of ground meat, it is perfectly fine and dandy to have a little pink in the center. Think of it like cooking a steak – some of us like it on the rare side, some medium and some well-done. There is no shame in this. There is also no shame in using a meat thermometer to determine your temperature. I don’t know about you but, even after years in the industry, I have a hard time glancing at a closed BBQ and rattling off the exact internal temperature of the food inside. If you do not have a thermometer, please call the Wyoming Pork Producers office to get one free. That’s a lot less work than burning up supper and sifting through the fridge for leftovers, don’t you think?
Next, be sure to let the meat rest for three minutes after removing from heat. Don’t slice it. Don’t serve it and then ask your starving fans to wait. Good things come to those who wait.
While on the subject of fire, it is also important to talk about direct and indirect heat sources. Direct is best for small cuts, like kabobs, tenderloins, burgers and chops. Arrange hot coals evenly on the fire grate of the grill or use all gas burners. Place pork directly above the heat source. Follow suggested cooking times, turning once during cooking.
Indirect heat is your best option for larger cuts, like loin, roasts, shoulder, ribs and fresh ham. For this method, bank hot coals on both sides of the fire grate, on one side of the grill or in a ring around the perimeter. For gas grills, pre-heat and then turn off any burners directly below where the food will go. Place pork on the grill so it is not directly over any coals or gas burners and close grill hood. Follow suggested cooking times until pork is done. The heat circulates inside the grill, so turning the pork is not necessary.
Now that we have solved a few issues on the back porch and the fire department is feeling more secure, let’s get grilling!
GRILLED RIBEYE (RIB) PORK CHOPS with EASY SPICY BBQ SAUCE
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
4 Ribeye (rib) Pork Chops, about 1-inch thick
salt and pepper, to taste
olive oil, for brushing grill grate
Preheat the grill over medium high heat and brush with olive oil. Season the chops with a generous amount of salt and pepper on both sides.
Place pork on the grill for 8 to 9 minutes, turning once halfway through, until cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Remove pork from the grill, tent it with foil; let it rest for 3 minutes.
SPICY BARBEQUE SAUCE
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
To make the Spicy Barbeque Sauce, heat the oil in a pot over medium heat. Sauté the onion until soft and add ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire, vinegar and cayenne. Simmer for 15 minutes so the sauce thickens and turn off heat.
Once cooled, puree the sauce in a blender.
CHIVE MASHED POTATOES
3 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons chives, chopped
3 tablespoons heavy cream
To make the mashed potatoes, add potatoes to a pot with water, over high heat and boil for 15 minutes.
Drain the water and add the heavy cream.
Mash the potatoes until smooth. Stir in the chopped chives, salt and pepper.
To give the potatoes a bit of extra decadence, without the work, incorporate a small spoonful of mascarpone or cream cheese for a creamy finish.
Serve the chops alongside the potatoes and a spoonful of BBQ sauce.
Calories: 330 calories
Protein: 65 grams
Fat: 10 grams
Sodium: 270 milligrams
Cholesterol: 65 milligrams
Saturated Fat: 4 grams
Carbohydrates: 38 grams
Fiber: 2 grams
Oil is not included in the nutritional value since it’s for brushing the grill, rather than for the chops.
Wyoming Pork Producers Council can be reached at 406-557-2980 – even for thermometers. To contact Anne by email, use firstname.lastname@example.org.