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5 Ways to Grill or Smoke Juicy, Flavorful Pork Chops

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We’re often reeled in at the market by their relatively reasonable price. But what do you do with pork chops or pork steaks when you get them home? Our mothers and grandmothers used to pan-fry them or bake them within an inch of their lives, driven by an outdated FDA mandate that implied you’d die if you ate pork that was served at anything under 180 degrees. Today, the FDA’s revised recommendations are kinder to lean pork; it need only be cooked to 145. The recipes below yield juicy, ultra-flavorful pork, which is perfect for autumn dining. Please share your favorites with us on social media!

5 Ways to Grill or Smoke Pork Chops

1. Cider-Brined Pork Chops

Celebrate the arrival of fall with these delectable chops, brined in apple cider (find fresh-pressed at your local market), smoke-roasted, then seared. Finish, if desired, with a Calvados (apple brandy) glaze.

Cider-Brined Pork Chops

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2. Monroe County Pork Steaks with Spicy Vinegar Dip

The heat-seekers among us will appreciate this regional barbecue favorite. Tipped off by our late fire wrangler Rob Baas, Steven made a special trip to Monroe County, Kentucky, to sample these pork steaks at their source. (He even wrote about them for the New York Times.) Pork blade steaks or thin pork chops work, although blade steaks have more marbling.

Monroe County Pork Steaks with Spicy Vinegar Dip

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3. Pork T-Bones on a Shovel

Like their bovine counterparts, pork T-bones encompass a strip loin and a nugget of tenderloin separated by a T-shaped bone. Here, they’re cooked dramatically on clean shovel blades heated over an open fire. Inspired by a technique used in the Australian Outback, this preparation will have your guests talking for years.

Pork T-Bones on a Shovel

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4. St. Louis Pork Steaks

Another regional preparation for pork steaks (also called blade steaks) comes from the back yards of St. Louis. Pork steaks, which are cut from the pork shoulder, are sizzled on a hot grill, then basted with a local sauce called Maull’s Original Barbecue Sauce. Find it online or follow Steven’s recipe for a close facsimile.

St. Louis Pork Steaks

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5. Brined Triple-Thick Pork Chops with a Chile Rub

A cool Minneapolis restaurant, the Butcher and the Boar (it closed during the pandemic but rumors say it will reopen under different ownership in 2022), shared this flavorful recipe with Steven. Brined for 12 hours in a solution that contains curing salt, these thick pork chops (look for 2 bones) are then smoked. They can be eaten at this stage, but are even better when glazed with olive oil and a chile-inflected rub.

Triple Thick Pork Chops

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