Monday, July 20, 2009

Spiced Beer Brined Pork Chops with Skillet Corn, Jalapenos, and Heirloom Tomatos

If this doesn't convert those who dislike pork chops, then I surrender, and suggest you use the brine on chicken. It gives the meat an otherworldly, freshly killed vibrancy, provided you still take the time to cook it correctly. Remember - brine is like Cliff Notes for a cook - they give you a quick leg up but can't do all the work for you:)

By the way - I can't remember how I made the Skillet Corn so I'll post the recipe when I make it again.

Spiced Beer Brined Pork Chops

2 double cut, bone-in pork chops

Brine Ingredients:
2 cups water
2 cups dark beer (such as a Boch or Hefeweisein - no 'light' beers or sissy lagers)
1/4 cup kosher salt
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick, broken into shards
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons molasses
1 cup ice cubes

Rub Ingredients:
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

fresh cracked black pepper

Make the brine by combining all of the brine ingredients, except the ice together until the molasses and sugar have blended well into the other ingredients in a large bowl or wide dish big enough to hold the chops with the brine. Stir in the ice, then add the chops, making sure they are submerged in the brine. Regrigerate at least 4 hours and up to 8, removing from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking.

When ready to grill, preheat your outdoor grill if using (I just used my stovetop grill pan and it worked great) to medium high heat. Remove the chops from the brine and gently pat dry. Have all of the rub ingredients mixed together, then sprinkle it over every inch of the chops, rubbing in to get a good coat. Sprinkle with fresh cracked pepper lightly on both sides (you can add a pinch more salt if you want as well), then grill about 8-10 minutes per side (or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the centers registers 145.) Transfer to a holding plate or platter, tent loosely with foil, and let stand 5 minutes before cutting into.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Jalapeno and Celery Chutney

This is my Texas twist on a Lidia Bastianich recipe. Yet I know there's nothing I can write to make it sound sexy. All I can tell you is, I don't even like celery and this is my absolute favorite thing to eat on my rooftop over plain old cream cheese, scooped up on crostini with a glass of wine.

The jalapeno doesn't add heat, but rather depth (I am sensitive to heat but would even consider adding more next time) and the whole thing is entirely more delicious than the sum of its parts. (Lidia even suggests serving it over ice cream - I wouldn't go that far as I think it's best in contrast against a savory component - a la cream cheese or even on warmed brie.)

And though I will keep this in my year round repertoire (it would be particularly gorgeous at Christmas over cream cheese as an appetizer) - it will always remind me of summer with its bright grassy, sweet crunch.

Jalapeno and Celery Chutney

2 pounds firm celery stalks, medium size
1 medium jalapeno, ribs removed, minced (I leave in the seeds and don't find it too hot - up to you.)
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt or kosher salt
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 4 lemons)

Recommended equipment:
A heavy 3- or 4-quart saucepan with a cover

1. Rinse, dry, and trim the celery stalks. Shave off any tough and stringy outer peel with a vegetable peeler. Slice the stalks crosswise in half; slice all these chunks lengthwise into very thin sticks, about 1/8-inch thick. Cut the sticks crosswise into 1/8-inch cubes and bits (the size of pickle relish). You should have 6 to 7 cups of fine celery pieces.

2. Put the cup of sugar and the salt in the saucepan, pour the lemon juice on top and then all the celery and jalapeno. Set the pot over medium-low heat and stir as the sugar dissolves and the celery heats and starts releasing its juices. Bring the syrup to a gentle simmer, stirring frequently.

3. Cover the pot and adjust the heat to maintain a gently bubbling around the edges of the pan. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring now and then. Uncover the pot and cook at the simmer, stirring occasionally, until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed or evaporated, about 35 minutes or more.

4. Remove the pan from the heat and let the chutney cool completely before using. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator. It will keep for months.

Serve over cream cheese, baked brie, or by itself as a dip.

Yield: Makes about 2 cups

Monday, July 6, 2009

Failures and Disappointments. Again...

Hi Loves! I hope everyone had a great 4th!

I certainly did - though I usually do as it is also my birthday. I will post pics soon from the night - the Macys fireworks literally went off in front of us on our roof deck. I am certainly saying my blessings more than usual these days...

We had an afternoon barbecue that extended into evening drinks that extended into a late night barbecue that extended into a roof deck so packed full of random strangers that friends and I had to retreat to my living room downstairs just to visit, much like the scene from Breakfast at Tiffany's where Holly Go Lightly and her Brazilian beau use the fire escape to flee her own overgrown party. I had a BLAST.

Anyhow, now that real life has kicked in again, I am feeling the effects of it. I had intended to post tonight about lovely southwestern spiced chicken legs cooked on the grill. And then I got caught up planting my new hydrangeas and begonias (I'm the WORST kind of gardener - I buy plants strictly based on their flower color) and low and behold - my grilling got a little neglected. I literally burned the living crap out of those poor chicken legs. Thank the Lord my asparagus and corn turned out, and as a bonus I discovered my new favorite flavored butter for topping grilled corn with - orange basil butter. It's easier than sex and it goes like this...

Orange Basil Butter
Enough for 2 Corn Cobs, unless you're a Paula Dean fan
* This would also be delicious over roasted asparagus or other vegetables of your choice

1/4 cup butter
hefty pinch of orange zest - that of half a medium orange
hefty pinch of sea or kosher salt
1 tablespoon minced basil

Melt butter in the microwave for 30 seconds. Add the orange zest and sea or kosher salt (the more the better if you're using unsalted/sweet butter.) Return to the microwave for another 30-45 seconds or until the butter has fully melted and has begun to bubble under the heat. Add the minced basil, swirling or stirring to incorporate, then poor over hot corn cobs.