Brined, Smoked, and Brandied Pork Chops

This is my take on the Pork Chops in Brandied BBQ Peach Sauce recipe from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que: An American Roadhouse.

The folks at Dinosaur start with grilled, center-cut pork chops. I went with  brined and smoked 2-inch thick chops that I cut from the rib end of a pork loin. While they’re not quite as tender as center cut chops, they have plenty of flavor and the brining keeps them very moist.

Brined
4-5 thick-cut pork chops
4 cups water
1/3 cup kosher salt
1/3 cup molasses
1/3 cup cider vinegar
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

Bring the water to a boil and add the salt, molasses, vinegar, and peppercorns. Reduce heat and stir until salt is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool. Arrange the chops in a lidded plastic container or zip-top bag. Cover with the brine, making sure all of the chops are submerged. Seal and let the chops sit in the brine in the refrigerator for no more than 2 hours.

Smoked
While the chops are brining, set up the grill for an indirect cook that will burn for at least 2 hours at 225 to 250°F. Use a drip pan under the grid to catch the fat. Once the grill is up to temperature, add the smoking wood. I like apple word for pork chops. If using a gas grill, place 2-4 cups of soaked wood chunks in the smoker box. If using a charcoal grill, toss a fist-sized lump right into the coals.

Remove the chops from the brine and arrange them on the grill. Close the lid and cook for 30 minutes. Flip the chops and continue to cook until the chops reach and internal temperature of 145°F, about another 30 to 45 minutes. Remove chops to a plate and keep warm.

Brandied
1 pound fresh peaches
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup brandy
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste

Peel peaches by cutting an “x” into flesh on the bottom of of each peach and submerging them in boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove from water and the skins should peel right off. Pit peaches and cut them into medium slices.

In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter and saute ginger until soft. Add peach slices and brown sugar. Stir until everything is well combined and the peaches have begun to soften. Add the 1/4 c. of brandy and very carefull ignite. Cook until flame dies. Add BBQ sauce, cinnamon, and salt and pepper to taste. Ladle sauce over pork chops and serve with Dinosaur’s potato salad.

Country Eggs Benedict

This is a gluten-free variation of my favorite breakfast – biscuits and gravy.

Ingredients

1 pound pork breakfast sausage
2 cups milk
1/4 cup gluten-free flour (I like Pamela’s Amazing Bread Mix or Gluten-Free Pantry Country French Bread Mix)
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 gluten-free waffles (I used Van’s Frozen Wheat Free Buckwheat – sweet and tasty)
4 eggs

Directions

Cook sausage in a large skillet until uniformly brown. Do not drain. Add sage, red pepper, salt, and black pepper and stir to combine. Add flour and cook over low heat for 5 minutes until flour forms a roux and begins to brown. Remove pan from heat and stir in milk a little at a time. Return to medium-high heat and stir occasionally until gravy comes to a simmer and starts to thicken. Reduce heat to low.

Prepare the eggs. Any style is fine, but I really like them fried sunny side up with runny yolks. Toast the waffles and then top with eggs and sausage gravy.

Hot Sauce

There are thousands hot sauces out there designed to boost the flavors of food and give them a fiery kick. My dear wife has noted that we sometimes have more condiments than actual food in our pantry, so I’ve tried to limit my collection of hot stuff.  I’m not big into adding a lot of heat for heat’s sake, so all of these sauces have been selected for the other qualities that they bring to the party and the way they compliment the way I like to cook.

Búfalo Picante Clasica – We fell in love with this thick, mild sauce while eating gambas (breaded shrimp) at a little seaside restaurant in Mexico. I particularly like it as a shrimp cocktail sauce  mixed with ketchup, ground horseradish, and little lime juice.

Cholula – It’s all about the pepper – not much heat, very little vinegar, but a solid chili taste that works great on almost any Mexican dish. Very tasty in tacos, nachos, and chili.

Crystal Hot Sauce – Cheap and tasty sauce with good cayenne heat.  If I were to have one Louisiana-style sauce, this would be it as it tends to go well with just about everything. Great in gumbo or jambalaya.

Frank’s RedHotThe hot sauce for making Buffalo wings. Rounder heat and less vinegar than most Louisiana-style sauces. Also great in sausage gravy.

Marie Sharp’s Habanero Pepper Sauce Hot– Brings back fond memories of meals in Belize, where an old Crystal water bottled filled with the homemade version of this hot pepper, carrot, garlic and lime blend is found on every table. Plenty of heat, but good on almost everything. Excellent on selfish and in jerk recipes.

Mae Ploy Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce – Hot and sweet. It’s good as a dipping sauce for egg rolls. I use it a lot as part of a marinade for scallops.

Sriracha – a.k.a. Rooster sauce, this Thai sauce is a sweet and spicy blend of hot peppers and garlic. Very nice mixed with some mayo as a remoulade. Some folks use it as a spicy replacement for ketchup, but I’m not quite there yet.

Tabasco – Ubiquitous and tasty. Another Louisiana-style sauce, but hotter than Crystal or Frank’s and has a fuller flavor. Very good in anything Cajun. Love it on eggs and it’s truly excellent in Bloody Marys.

Swiss Steak

No, I did not grill Swiss steak. It was a cold and dark Sunday afternoon,  -19°F outside with an ugly North wind, and I was craving some meaty comfort food. This oven-braised dish fit the bill perfectly.

This is mostly just an update to my Grandmother’s recipe. While she would have never used wine, fresh garlic, or Spanish paprika, her Swiss steak was always heavy with onions and tomatoes.

Ingredients

3 pounds minute steak (about 6 steaks)
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup peanut oil
1 large yellow onion, sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Smoked Spanish paprika
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup beef or chicken broth
1/2 cup red wine

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Trim the steaks of any excess fat and cut into into individual serving sizes. Combine the flour, salt, and pepper. Place the flour mixture into a large plate.  Dredge  both sides of the steaks in the flour and set aside.

In a 5-quart Dutch oven or a large, lidded skillet, add enough of the oil to cover the bottom and set it  over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the steaks to the pan two or three at a time, being careful not to overcrowd. Cook about 2 minutes per side until golden brown on both sides. Remove the steaks to a plate, add more oil to the pan,  and repeat until all of the steaks have been browned.

Remove the last steaks from the pan and add the onions and garlic. Saute until soft, but not browned, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, beef broth, and wine.  Stir to combine and cook for a minute or so, scraping the bottom to loosen all of the brown bits. These will help flavor and thicken the sauce.

Lay the steaks across the top of the sauce. Try for a single layer, but stacking or overlapping is fine if you have to. Cover the pan and cook in the oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the sauce is brown and bubbly and the meat is falling apart tender.

I love to dish up the steaks on a plate with whipped potatoes and sweet corn and then smother everything with the remaining sauce.

Dave’s Thick & Tangy BBQ Sauce – v2.0

1 small onion, minced
2 clove2 garlic, minced
14.5  ounces canned diced tomatoes
1 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup tamarind concentrate (not paste)
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon bacon grease or butter
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon lemon rind
1/2 teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon

In medium sauce pan, heat bacon grease over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, cover and sweat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook until mixture is reduced by a third (30 minutes or so).  Sauce will be chunky. If you like a smoother sauce, blend with an immersion blender for a minute or so.

Store, and chill overnight. Makes about 3 cups.

Dave’s notes: Very nice. Best try to date. Good tomato flavor. Like the acid of the red wine vinegar better then the cider vinegar. Sauce is better when it’s a little smoother after hitting it with the immersion blender. Maybe try crushed tomatoes?   Need to back off on the allspice and nutmeg. The Penzey’s stuff is pretty potent.

Dave’s Thick & Tangy BBQ Sauce – v1.5

8 ounces tomato sauce
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup tamarind concentrate (not paste)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon bacon grease or butter
1 teaspoon ground yellow mustard (Colman’s if you can get it)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon onion granulated powder
1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon lemon rind
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon sweet curry powder
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook until mixture is reduced by a third (20 minutes or so). Makes just shy of 2 cups.

Dave’s notes: better, sweet and spicy with being too dark. Littel too much black pepper and mustard. Needs allspice and/or mace. Maybe go 1 cup syrup and leave out the brown sugar (or adjust taste wth a little white sugar).

Citrus Barbecue Sauce

A tangy, Caribbean-ish sauce that goes particularly well on shrimp and chicken.

1 small onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs chile powder
1 Tbs Smoked Spanish paprika, or 1/2Tbs Hungarian half-sharp paprika
1 bay leaf
1 tsp mustard powder, Coleman’s if you can get it
1/2 tsp ginger, powdered
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp black ground pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup mojo criollo
2 Tbs lemon juice – fresh
2 Tbs molasses
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs brown sugar
1 tsp lemon peel, minced
1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp hot sauce, a habanero-based one like Marie Sharp’s

In small sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sweat until soft. Add remaining ingredients and bring to simmer. Cook covered over low heat for 30 minutes. Store, and chill overnight. Makes about 2 cups.

Dave’s Thick & Tangy BBQ Sauce – v1.0

8 ounces tomato sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup tamarind concentrate (not paste)
2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 molasses, mild un-sulphured
2 tablespoons secret seasonings (flake salt, sugar, black pepper, paprika, ground nutmeg, sage, cayenne and red pepper)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic, granulated

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook until mixture is reduced by a third (20 minutes or so). Makes just shy of 2 cups.

Dave’s notes – good dark, sweet, tangy, spicy. Needs more nutmeg/allspice. Sauce is too dark, maybe try a syrup instead or molasses.

South Carolina Barbecue Sauce

Not all barbecue sauce is tomato-based.  Mustard-based sauces are very popular in the South Carolina midlands. This sweet and tangy recipes goes well with almost any pork dish, but is particularly tasty on pulled pork sandwiches.

1/2 cup of prepared yellow mustard
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons of molasses, mild or dark
1/2 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon of Hungarian or Smoked Spanish paprika
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon hot sauce (I like Marie Sharp’s in this)

Combine everything In a medium saucepan. Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Pour into a container and refrigerate overnight before using.

Lexington BBQ Sauce

This is a thin, vinegar-based sauce that’s most commonly served as a finishing sauce with pulled pork.

1 cup water
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup ketchup
1 Tbs sugar
3/4 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Whisk together all ingredients until sugar and salt are dissolved.

Pull pork into thin shreds and toss with half of the sauce. Save the remaining sauce to serve at the table. Makes about 2 cups.