Grilled Pork Chops with Orange-Fennel Mostarda

Pork Chops Mostarda


Yeah, I’d never heard of it either, but thanks to Food52 I got to give this chutney-ish Italian condiment a try.

The Brine
4 thick-cut, pork chops
1 1/2 cups hot water
3 tablespoons sea or kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

I got a whole pork lion and cut it into 4 nice and thick chops and 2 roasts for later.
I got a whole pork loin and cut it into 4 nice and thick chops and 2 roasts for later.

Mix the salt and sugar into the hot water and stir to dissolve. Stash in fridge to cool. Once it is cool, arrange the chops in a single layer in a shallow non-reactive dish (a glass pie plate works well) and then pour the brine over top. Let this sit for anywhere from 1/2 hour to 2 hours before cooking.

The Orange-Fennel Mostarda
1/2 of a small fennel bulb, diced
1 navel orange
1 1/2 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
Pinch of salt

Place the fennel, mustard seeds, sugar, vinegar, and water into a small sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

While this is cooking, grate the orange peel (I use a microplane grater) to get 1 teaspoon of zest.


Peel the orange, removing as much of the pith as you can along with any seeds, rind or stringy bits. Dice the orange segments (I found it easiest to pull the orange in half and slice each half across the segments) and add to the sauce pan.

Bring the mixture back to a boil for 5 minutes, Reduce heat and simmer until the orange has broken down and the mustard seeds have plumped up and softened and the mostarda takes on a marmalade-like consistency, about 30 minutes.


Stir in reserved orange zest and cook for 5 minutes more, then set aside to cool.

The Cook
Set up your grill for a direct cook over medium (350°F) heat.

Remove the chops from the brine and season them on both sides with your favorite rub (I used Dizzy Pig Raging River). Grill the chops 5 minutes on one side. Grill the chops 6 to 8 minutes per side (depending on how thick they are) until the internal temp hits 135°F (pork is done at 140°F, but I usually pull it at 135°F as the internal temp will rise as it rests).

Pork Chops Mostarda

Remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes. Serve with mostarda on the side.

The Verdict: ★★★★☆
Wow! The chops themselves were tender and juicy, but add the sweet and savory mostarda and it’s a knockout.

Why only 4 stars? As good as the mostarda was, the mustard taste didn’t come through as strongly as I would have liked. I used brown mustard seeds, so maybe that makes a difference? I would add a teaspoon or so of grainy mustard to this nest time. Also, the original recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon of whole fennel seeds, which I was out of, and you could taste their absence.

On the plus side – I have big plans for this condiment! I can easily see it as the filling for a butterflied pork loin roast or as a pan glaze similar to what I did with the Apricot-Glazed Pork Chops recipe.

The Nutrition:
3 ounces of center-cut pork chops is 4 Weight Watchers points and 180 calories. The mostarda only adds 1 point and 50 calories per tablespoon.

One year ago – Have Ribs, Will Travel
Two years ago – Corned Beef Hash

Pile o’ Pig

Pulled Pork

I’ve been asked to make pulled pork for a graduation party. Having learned some lessons from my last catering effort, I got a head start cooking for the event.

While I would normally do pork butts (recently renamed Boston Roast) low and slow overnight, our weather has been so crazy lately that I decided to go with the hot and fast method – roasting them at 350°F, then foiling and braising them until tender.

The Big Green Egg will hold 4 butts at a time, so I cooked 2 batches. Here’s one batch seasoned up with Plowboys Yardbird Rub.

Pulled Pork

I set the BGE up for a 5 hour indirect cook at 350°F. This meant filling the firebox with lump and using a plate setter and drip pan to diffuse the heat. When the BGE was up to temp, I added some chucks of apple wood for smoke. When the smoke went from white (bad) to blue (good) I loaded up the butts, using an extended grid to give me some room and made sure to leave some space between them on the grate so they didn’t act like one big piece of meat.

I cooked the butts for about 4 hours at 350°F, until they developed a nice dark bark on the outside and hit 160°F on the inside.

Pulled Pork

I moved the butts off to a hotel pan and covered them tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil. The pan full of butts went into the oven set at 350°F. I braised them for a little over 2 hours, until their internal temperature hit 210°F. Then I removed the pan from the oven and let them cool for another hour before pulling the meat.

My dear wife broke down the major muscle groups from the fat and connective tissue and I worked the meat over using a pair of bear paws to help remove all the remaining inedible bits and separate the meat into tasty morsels. I added a little finishing sauce while we were working with the meat to help keep it moist.

Pulled Pork

The finished pulled pork was put into one gallon zip-top freezer bags and stashed in the deep freeze until the big day.

I’ll follow up next month and let you know how it went. Wish me luck!

One year ago – Chicken & Chorizo Fajitas
Two years ago – Lemon Pepper Chicken

Cheesy Grits with Sausage Gravy

Cheesy Grits and Sausage

I have always enjoyed biscuits and gravy, but (as a northerner) could never quite get the idea of serving the gravy over grits. This is the recipe I went with to try to expand my palate.

Cheesy Grits
3 cups water
3/4 cup stone-ground grits
4-ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring the water to a boil in a deep, heavy-bottomed pot on the stove top. Whisk in the grits and then turn the heat to the lowest setting and put a lid on top.

While the grits are cooking, assemble the gravy.

Sausage Gravy
1 pound ground pork breakfast sausage
2 tablespoons gluten-free all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1/4 cup strong-brewed coffee
1-3 tablespoons Louisiana-style hot sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Brown the sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Do not drain. Add the flour and cook over low heat for 5 minutes until it forms a roux and begins to brown.

Remove pan from heat and stir in the coffee. Scape the bottom to get up any brown bits. Add the milk a little at a time, stirring constantly. Return to medium-high heat and stir occasionally until gravy comes to a simmer and starts to thicken, about 10 minutes. Add the hot sauce, salt and pepper to taste, and stir to combine. Remove from heat.

The grits should be soft and creamy by this point. Stir in the cheese and butter.

Divide the grits into shallow bowls and top with gravy. Serve with more hot sauce.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
Okay, now I’m starting to get grits.They were rich and creamy and stood up nicely to the gravy. Adding just the 1/4 cup of coffee really gave the gravy more depth.

The Nutrition:
Cheese + butter + sausage + gravy ? health food.

One year ago – General Purpose Rub v1.5
Two years ago – Flashback Friday

Beef Short Ribs

Beef Short Ribs

I have not had a lot of luck cooking beef short ribs. I love the ones I get when eating out – beefy, rich, and fork-tender. I’ve managed to get mine smoky and tasty, but they were also usually tough and dry. Since our last quarter of beef included two packs of short ribs, once more unto the breach, dear friends…

1 pound bone-in beef short ribs
Kosher salt & fresh-ground black pepper
1/4 cup red wine

Set your smoker up for at least a 6 hour indirect cook at 250°F. On the Big Green Egg this means filling the firebox with lump charcoal and using an inverted plate setter to diffuse the heat and a drip pan with a little water in it to catch the fat.

Once the smoker is up to temp, toss in your smoking wood (I used pecan), Season the ribs lightly with salt and pepper, then arrange them bone side down on the grate. Close the lid and let the smoker do its magic for 4 to 5 hours, or until the ribs reach 160°F internal.

Beef Short Ribs

When the ribs are ready, arrange them on a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil, meat side down. Pull up the edges of the foil to make a little bowl and then pour the wine over the ribs. Wrap the ribs tightly in the foil, making sure to seal the edges.

Put the bundle of ribs back on the smoker, meat side down, and cook until the ribs reach 190°F internal (about an hour).

Remove the ribs from the foil and return them to the smoker bone side down. Cook for 30 minutes or so, until the meat has tightened up and pulled well away from the bones.

Beef Short Ribs

Remove ribs from the smoker and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
Finally! No knives were needed to take apart these little blocks of beefy wonder. They practically melted. I was also glad I stuck with a real simple preparation and let the meat and the smoke come though.

The Nutrition:
3 ounces of rib meat is a whopping 11 points and 165 calories, so these are a rare treat.

One year ago – Fish Tagine with Chermoula and Moroccan Rice Pilaf
Two years ago – Foodie Technology

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