We love to grill out in the warmer months of the year. Actually, we grill out some all year round. It is much more enjoyable in warm, sunny weather than it is in 30 and 40 degree weather in January though. I love a good grilled steak, but to be honest, a grilled pork chop, when it's done right can just about rival a steak. Some folks tell me they just can't grill pork that isn't dry and a little on the tough side. There are few tips on grilling pork chops that will make them much better.
First of all, you have to have chops that are thick enough. You cannot grill tiny little skinny pork chops and have them stay moist and tender. So if you have some chops like that, use them for breading and frying or oven fry them. For grilling chops, you need a pork chop that is at least 3/4 inch thick and an inch thick is even better.
Now, there are two ways to get chops like that. You can buy them cut that way from your meat department, you might have to ask the butcher to cut some for you if there aren't any on the shelf. The bone in cut that are cut thick are wonderful, but you will pay a pretty penny for them. They are a specialty cut and they are not cheap. A more economical way to get good grilling chops, is to buy a pork loin, preferably when it's on sale and cut your own. You can then adjust the thickness. If you are lucky enough to shop at a store that still has a full service meat department with a butcher, you can ask them to cut the pork loin to your specifications also. Most of the time I just don't have time to wait for them. I cut mine 1 inch thick to start, there will be a little shrinkage after they are grilled.
The second secret to a good grilled chop is a marinade and giving them time to sit and soak in that marinade. The best marinades are the ones you mix up yourself and that contain some acidic fruit juices for tenderizing. The marinade for these has pineapple juice and lime juice which contain enzymes that act as a very natural meat tenderizer. You need to give them a soak in this delicious concoction for at least 1 hour, but no more than 2 hours. I think after two hours, the meat starts to break down too much and it changes the texture. This is so simple, but it will result in the best grilled chops you have ever eaten. Here is what you need:
6-8 thick pork chops (3/4" - 1")
20 oz. can pineapple slices (drained, juice reserved for marinade, you can use fresh pineapple if available)
juice of one lime
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1/4 cup brown sugar
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
In a gallon size Ziploc bag or a large bowl with a tight fitting lid mix the pineapple juice, lime juice, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, brown sugar, and cayenne pepper. Place the pork chops in the marinade and coat well with it. If you are using the Ziploc bag, place it in a baking dish or on a large platter and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, turning the bag over at least once during this time to be sure each side gets a good soak.
Prepare your grill for grilling and oil or spray the grates with nonstick spray. Grill this pork on medium low heat. They are thick and do better with lower heat to be sure they get done on the inside. As I have said before, I know eating pink on the inside pork is the frou-frou, she- she thing to do these days, but not at my house. I do not serve pork any way except done. I don't care what those chefs on the Food Network say about it. I am not sure they have ever met an actual pig or a pig farmer....I have. It matters.
Place the chops on the grill and pour the marinade over them after you place them on the grates. It all cooks off, pretty much, but it gives them a nice glaze. Sprinkle each one with some seasoned salt and black pepper. Grill until nice and brown on each side and not pink in the middle. Another grilling tip...don't poke and jab at the meat while it grills and turn it with a spatula instead of a meat fork. Every time you stick a fork in it, you are allowing the juices to escape which dries it out. With pork, this lean, you need all of that juiciness. When the chops are done. place on a platter, cover with foil and allow to rest while you finish the rest of your meal.
Now there are two different things you can do with the pineapple slices. You can place them on the grill and just grill them on each side until you get grill marks and serve a pineapple ring on each of the pork chops or you can make a sort of pineapple chutney for dipping the pork in which is what I did. Here is what you need:
pineapple rings, diced fine or pulse in the food processor
1 Tbs. butter
1 tsp. garlic minced
1 Tbs. lime juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
red pepper flakes to taste
2 Tbs. fresh cilantro, chopped
Saute pineapple and garlic in butter. Add lime juice, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, red pepper flakes, brown sugar and cilantro. Simmer until just cooked down. Serve alongside the pork. This is good warm or cold.
These are great served with a wild rice pilaf or the Twice Baked Potato Casserole or The Country Hash Brown Casserole!