Grilled Pork Chops, Cauliflower Gratin

Grilling meat, man has been doing it since the discovery and replication of fire. Before that it was raw meat baby. The practice of cooking meat, some say, has resulted in rendering the appendix useless, just a spare part. Theories regarding the appendix believe that it produced an enzyme to help digest and protect the body from raw meat, fat and sinew. As such, it has now been reduced to a ticking time bomb.

Grilling, by definition, is a dry heat method of cooking with heat applied to either the top or bottom of the food, for me, it is preferably over an open flame or charcoal. Having been the chef of a charcoal steakhouse, I do appreciate the flavor imparted to meat cooked over lumpwood charcoal (which is 1000 times better than the briquettes which are more filler than actual charcoal) as opposed to gas grills. But there is also something to be said for the ease and convenience of firing up the propane grill and having it ready in 5 minutes, especially when my girls get hungry.

Both methods impart a unique flavor to meat, poultry seafood, vegetables and even breads. But whichever you choose, make sure your meat is ‘on the bone’. Grilling bone in meat, such as these pork loin chops, imparts better flavor and helps keep the meat from drying out. The only drawback is that it increases the cooking time slightly as the bone itself is not a great conductor of heat. For larger cuts such as a thick porterhouse or cowboy steak, my advice to cooking meat on the bone is to find a ‘cooler’ spot on the grill to allow the meat to come to temperature without too much charring of the flesh. The other option you have is to ask your butcher for thinner cuts. These 6 ounce pork chops are thick enough to be prepared medium rare to medium on your grill ‘hot spots’ without worrying too much about the extra time the bone adds. As a last option, a common restaurant practice is to start the meat on the grill and finish in the oven, sometimes referred to as grill-roasting. While I’m not a fan, it is an option.

I wouldn’t suggest this for beef products, but ask your butcher for smaller portions, 6-8 ounce pork chops. The smaller portions also remove much of the guilt associated with going back for seconds, not that this is a problem in my house.

These little chops have been marinated overnight, more so for the addition of flavor than tenderizing the meat. You can use other aromatics if you choose but I love the flavor of the garlic, lemon and rosemary done over the grill. I quickly flashed them on the hot grill and served medium rare. They cook quickly and are great for patio dining; I’ve also prepared a rich cauliflower gratin to go with these bright, clean pork chops.

Grilled Pork Chops

Grilled Pork Chops, Cauliflower Gratin
Serves 4

Marinade

½ cup olive oil
1 oz garlic cloves, smashed and rough chopped
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1 tspn kosher salt
4 pork loin chops, 6-8 oz each

1. Combine the lemon juice, zest, salt and garlic and mix well.
2. Add the olive oil and mix well.
3. Add the rosemary.
4. Add the pork chops making sure to marinade all sides.
5. Chill for at least 4 hours or preferably, overnight.

Cauliflower Gratin

1 head cauliflower
8 oz. sharp cheddar, shredded
2 cups heavy cream
1 Tbs minced garlic
1 tsp rosemary, minced
1 Tbs kosher salt

1. Preheat your oven to 400°.
2. Remove cauliflower stem and cut florets into golf ball sizes.
3. Arrange florets in a 9 in. baking dish, cut side down.
4. In a small sauce pan, bring the cream, garlic, salt and rosemary to a simmer.
5. Remove from heat and whisk in 7 oz of cheddar cheese until it is fully incorporated.
6. Pour cheese sauce over the cauliflower.
7. Spread the remaining cheese over the top of the cauliflower.
8. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes on the middle rack.
9. Remove the foil and bake 1o more minutes or until the gratin has browned nicely.
10. Remove from oven and allow 15 minutes to set.

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