Thursday, September 13, 2012

A "Simple" Grilled Pork Chop Dinner

September 2, 2012
  • Grilled Pork Chop
  • Steamed Rice
  • Apple Sauce
  • Steamed White Corn
  • Vella Chardonnay
I'd been thinking that it has been too long since we've had pork chops. Pork chops can be very easy to prepare yet still make a delicious meal. The weather is still good for grilling (though this is California and we can grill pretty much year round) and as we transition to Fall we are starting to get some local apples. I like apple sauce with pork so this seemed like a good time to combine the two for dinner. It was dinner for one as Diane is still away helping her mom.

I got the basic technique for cooking the pork from The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook but I skipped the spice rub they used. I purchased a "pork loin center cut chop" at Whole Foods, only $3.98.  (When I was at the store it seemed a little sad, buying just one pork chop.) I soaked the pork chop in the refrigerator for 30 minutes in a brine made with ¾ quart of water and 1½ tablespoon each table salt and sugar. The chop was removed from the brine, patted dry with a paper towel, and seasoned with freshly ground pepper. It was placed on a preheated gas grill and each side browned for about 5 minutes. One of the burners was then turned off and the pork moved to this cooler section of the grill and cooked, with the lid closed, until reaching an internal temperature of 145°. The resulting chop was warm, juicy, tender, and nicely seasoned.

For the apple sauce I bought 4 Gala apples. The apples were peeled,  cored, sliced, and then cooked in a covered sauce pan with a few tablespoons of water, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of cinnamon for about 25 minutes until they were tender. I mashed them with a potato masher but not too much as I like my apple sauce to be a little lumpy, kind of rustic. The sauce was good, especially for early in the season, though a little bland which I blame on the apple variety as much as anything.

I steamed rice: ⅔ cup water with a pinch of salt was brought to a boil in a small sauce pan. The heat was turned to low and ⅓ cup rice was added. The pan was covered and the rice left to cook for 20 minutes until tender. Before serving a fork was used to fluff the rice and the lid returned to the pan for a few more minutes.

To round out the four-course meal, an ear of white corn was cooked in the microwave for 4 minutes. It was placed in a shallow baking dish with a little water and covered with plastic wrap. The corn was good but perhaps a little over done.

The meal was served with an inexpensive but tasty white wine.

This turned out to be a nice, simple dinner. But I have a theory about the meaning of "simple".  I have found this can be a very subjective term. In school I was a chemistry major and I studied  subjects that most people would say are far from being simple. However, if I studied well enough so I internalized and understood the complex subject matter, what was originally complex would become simple. Whether something is simple often reflects your mastery of the topic and it may or may not reflect the objective complexity of the subject. I always thought of baseball as a simple game until I tried to explain it to a visitor from Norway who had never been to a game. It was simple for me, but not for him.

Grilled Pork Chops, The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook, p. 507

What should I do with leftover rib eye steak? I had enough from our dinner last week that I could try several different things. First I just made thin slices of cold steak for a sandwich. Second, I reheated a portion in a skillet with a little oil. Third, I reheated it in the microwave. It is very hard to reheat the steak without overcooking it and my favorite was the cold sandwich. The reheated meat was good, it was still reasonably juicy, but it lacked the beefy flavor of either the freshly cooked steak or the cold slices.

The Test Kitchen had an on-line chat  this week over Twitter featuring Julia Collin-Davison, one of the chefs that frequently appears on the TV shows. I asked about reheating steak and was gratified by Julia's answer:

  What's the best way to reheat leftover steak without overcooking it?
 Is hard to reheat without re-cooking. Would make sandwiches or add to a salad. -Julia 

Perhaps even more exciting, I was one of four participants in the chat chosen to receive a free copy of the Test Kitchen's latest cookbook, The America's Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook. I look forward to cooking and writing about recipes which are promised to take 45 minutes or less.


  1. When I do steamed rice I will always rinse it well first (until the rinse water is not as milky and becomes transparent). This should make the grains more separate, more like Chinese restaurant rice.

    Congrats on the cookbook!

    1. Thanks for the tip, Caleb. I'll try to remember to do that the next time I have rice.