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.

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.

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.

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.

Green Beans & Red Pepper Potato Salad

My version of another fine recipe from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que: An American Roadhouse cookbook. Not your typical Sunday picnic potato salad. The mustard and the hot sauce gives this version a welcome kick. Dinosaur makes this with asparagus, but fresh green beans make a fine substitute.

1 pound red new potatoes
1/2 pound green beans
1 large red bell pepper, seeded
1/2 medium red onion, slivered
1/4 cup spicy brown or Creol mustard
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
11/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
Louisiana-style hot sauce

Scrub potatoes and cook in boiling salted water until tender, 20-30 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, cut into 3/4 inch chunks, and toss into a large bowl.

Trim beans and cut into thirds. Blanch in boiling water for a minute until tender-crisp and bright green.  Drain, rinse with cold water,  and toss into the bowl with the potatoes.

Slice red pepper into strips and cut strips in half. Add to the bowl along with the onion.

Combine mustard, vinegar, oil, sugar, salt, pepper, and garlic in a small bowl and whisk well to combine. Taste and add hot sauce as needed.

Combine veggies and dressing and give the salad a good stir. Refrigerate at least half an hour to let the flavors mingle. Let come to room temperature before serving.

Grilled Whole Red Snapper Veracruz

This is a dish that shows how Spanish cooking influenced Mexican cooking – combining fresh fish with both the heat of peppers and the salty tang of capers and olives. Grilling is an excellent way to do whole fish as the fish stays moist while the skin gets nice and crispy, and all the fishy smells stay outside.

The fish

2  – 1 1/4- to 1 1/2-pound whole red snappers, cleaned and scaled
Juice of 1 lime (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon Ancho chile powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt

Put the salt and garlic in a food processor and pulse until the garlic is minced. Add the remaining ingredients, except the fish, and give them a whirl until they are well-combined.

Rinse the fish inside and out and pat dry. Make 3 cuts on each side of the fish, about 1/2 inch deep. Place the fish in a shallow pan and coat with the lime marinade, making sure to work some of it into the cuts.

The sauce

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 4-ounce can green chillies
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup pimento-stuffed green olives, chopped
1/4 cup pickled jalapeños, chopped
2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 bay leaves

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic.  Cook until onion is soft, about 2 minutes. Add diced tomatoes, green chillies, and bay leaves. Cook for 1 minute.  Add olives,  jalapeños, and capers. Simmer until sauce thickens, about 3-5 minutes. Cover and keep warm.

The cook

Set your grill up for a direct cook over medium heat, about 350°F. Generously oil the grate. Put the fish on and grill for 7-10  minutes. Turn and grill until the skin is golden brown and the flesh is just opaque, about another 7-10 minutes.  Carefully remove the fish so it doesn’t stick.

You can serve just the fillets by running a knife between the flesh and the bones and lifting off the meat. But there’s so much good eating on the head and along the bones that we often just serve the fish whole on the plate.  Top with the sauce and serve with refried black beans and plenty of corn tortillas to soak up the juice.

Salt & Pepper Sirloin

Sometimes simple is best.

1 1/2 pound sirloin steak
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Set your grill up for a directed cook over medium-high heat (450-500°F).

Brush steak with oil and salt and pepper to taste.

For medium rare, grill for 4 to 6 minutes on each side, or until the meat reaches 130°F internal. Remove from grill and let it rest about 5 minutes, then cut crosswise into thin slices.

We served it with sauteed green beans and this excellent roasted beet salad.

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