I think it may be safe to say that grilling season has arrived for most of us. We’ve been happily basking in the early days of summer for weeks down here in the South, but our friends and family in New England haven’t been so fortunate. By now, though, their snow has finally melted away and turned the ground into a lovely soggy brown mess. Hey, at least it’s not snow, right?! It may not quite be summer up there yet, but even those late bloomers deserve to celebrate the upcoming holiday weekend somehow, don’t you think?
These pork chops are a perfect way to kick off the season. I love burgers and dogs as much as the next gal, but these are an interesting way to spice up your Memorial Day table. As you can imagine, the 4-hour marinating time is very important and well worth the wait. The marinade is full of bold and warm spices that really penetrate the pork, meaning more flavor later on. Just prep it earlier in the day and enjoy a few beers by the lake (or by the fire, depending on where you are) while you wait. I used boneless pork chops when I made these because it’s what I had on hand, bun bone-in chops will certainly make them even juicier. I served them with some simply grilled sesame zucchini and peanut noodles, which were great, but you could play with other sides as well – perhaps an Asian slaw or potato salad would work.
So even if summer hasn’t quite arrived where you are. Even if it’s 50 degrees and raining. Grab your sweater and your raincoat and get your butt out to the grill and cook some of these chops up this weekend. These lively flavors will keep you warm while you wait for the sun to come out.
Have a safe and happy holiday weekend!
Grilled Turmeric Ginger Pork Chops
Source: Adapted from Blue Kitchen
3 Tablespoons minced ginger
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
3 Tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1/2 Tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
4 thick bone-in pork chops, about 8 ounces each
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Combine ginger, garlic, oil, soy sauce, sugar, turmeric, five-spice powder, salt and cayenne pepper in a bowl. Pat pork chops dry with paper towels and place in 9×13-inch glass baking dish. Spoon marinade over chops and turn several times to coat them evenly. Cover dish with plastic wrap and marinate chops in the refrigerator for 3-1/2 to 4 hours, or more.
Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for indirect grilling (with the coals or heat on one side of the grill). Thirty minutes before the grill is ready, remove the pork chops from the refrigerator and allow them to come to room temperature.
Lightly oil the grill and place chops so they are not directly over the coals or heat source. Cover the grill and cook for about 10 minutes. Turn chops, cover grill and cook on second side for another 8 to 10 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer reads about 140º F when inserted into the thickest part of the chop (be careful to avoid the bone, which heats up faster and will give you a false reading). Move chops over the coals and cook uncovered for about 2 minutes per side to brown slightly. Watch the grill carefully for flare-ups, and move chops away from any flames as they finish. Test the chops again, and once they have reached at least 145ºF, remove them from the grill.
Transfer chops to platter, tent with foil and let them rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Grilled Sesame Zucchini
Source: Blue Kitchen
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
1 1/2 Tablespoons sesame oil
1 1/2 Tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
4 medium-sized zucchini
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Toast sesame seeds in a dry nonstick skillet over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently or shaking the skillet to keep them from burning. Transfer to a small bowl to cool and set aside.
Combine sesame oil and canola oil in a large bowl. Rinse the zucchini, pat dry with a paper towel and slice them on the diagonal into 1/3 to 1/2-inch thick slices. Gently toss zucchini slices with oil mixture to coat. Season with salt and pepper and toss some more.
Grill the zucchini. Working quickly with tongs, arrange zucchini slices directly over coals or heat source. Grill for just about 2 minutes per side. Essentially, once you get them all on the grill, start turning the ones you placed there first. And after you’ve turned all of them, you can start transferring them to a serving plate.
Just before serving, sprinkle the zucchini with the toasted sesame seeds and toss lightly.