Scout Recipe: Grilled Pork Chops

bon appétit scout life grilled pork chops

To get a true reading on the chops, make sure the thermometer is dead in the center and not too close to the bones, where the temperature will be higher.

The Pork
The most flavorful and moist chops come from heritage-breed pigs (look for the meat at farmers’ markets and butchers). They’ve got more intramuscular fat than conventional chops, which translates to better taste and juicier meat.

The Rub
You need to season the heck out of a cut of meat this big for inside-out flavor. We use a simple homemade dry rub of ground fennel, salt, and pepper that achieves two things: It seasons the meat, and also helps develop that gloriously crusty exterior. Coat your chop with some olive oil first so the rub really clings to the meat. And don’t you dare toss any leftover rub! It will keep well, and is beautiful on lamb, beef or chicken, too.

The Grill
Your first move is to deeply brown the chop’s exterior over medium-high heat. Move the meat around constantly to keep any flare-ups in check—forget about grill marks; you don’tt need ‘em—then slide it over to the cooler part of the grill away from the coals and let it cook through. Start checking the temperature of the meat earlier than you think you need to—it’ll prevent you from being left with a hunk of sad, overcooked pork. To get a true reading on the chops, make sure the thermometer is dead in the center and not too close to the bones, where the temperature will be higher.

The Finish
As with any grilled meat, once your chop is done cooking, let it rest! After you cut the loin meat away from the bones, throw the bones back on the grill until they’re crispy and charred (as the cook, you get first dibs). Slice and finish the meat with a simple garnish of extra-virgin olive oil, flaky sea salt, and ground fennel (or fennel pollen, if you have it), and dinner is served.

Ingredients

SERVINGS: 8

  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • ¼ cup coarsely ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup finely ground fennel seeds
  • 2 2½-pound triple-cut pork chops with ¼–½-inch fat cap, chine bone removed (not frenched)
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • Flaky sea salt
  • Fennel pollen or finely ground fennel seeds (for serving)

Preparation

  • Prepare grill for medium-high, indirect heat (for a charcoal grill, bank coals on one side of grill; for a gas grill, leave one or two burners off). Combine kosher salt, pepper, and ground fennel in a small bowl. Rub each pork chop all over with 2 Tbsp. oil, followed by spice mixture, patting to adhere. (Save any extra rub to use on chicken, lamb, or more chops another time.) Grill chops over direct heat, turning often and moving to cooler side of grill as needed to control flare-ups, until deeply browned on all sides, 10–15 minutes total.
  • Move chops to indirect heat, placing bone side down, and grill, turning every 20 minutes or so, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of chops registers 118°, 45–60 minutes. (Check after 30 minutes—once thermometer registers 100°, the temperature will climb much faster.) This cooking method and target temperature yield juicy chops with still-pink flesh.
  • Transfer pork chops to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes (temperature will rise about 5°). Cut loin on each chop from the bones in one piece. Slice between bones to separate and grill over direct heat, turning often, until crisped and well charred, about 5 minutes.
  • Grill loins over direct heat, cut side up, just to reheat slightly, about 2 minutes. Slice loins ½” thick and transfer to a platter. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with sea salt and fennel pollen. Serve with bones alongside.
  • Do Ahead: Pork can be rubbed with oil and spice mixture 1 day ahead; cover and chill. Pork can be grilled 2 hours ahead. Do not cut meat from bones; hold at room temperature. Grill over high to reheat, about 2 minutes, before finishing as directed above.

~bon appétit

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