Bourbon & Vanilla Pork Chops – Autumn Grill Series

Autumn is here and it’s the most beautiful time of the year, not to be confused with the most wonderful time of the year coming in a couple months. Don’t let the chill in the air and the shorter days keep you from enjoying your favorite way to cook. Get your grill on with the Autumn Grill Series, bringing the savor of warm spices and ingredients in traditional and non-traditional dishes. We begin with Bourbon and Vanilla Pork Chops, featuring a sweet and salty brine and a spice rub.

Since pork is generally lean, it’s always a good idea to brine it before grilling to infuse flavor and moisture. For this dish, the brine is a mixture of salt, bourbon, brown sugar, molasses, and pure vanilla extract. After three to four hours, the pork is removed from the brine and a rub featuring paprika, ground sage, dry mustard, cayenne pepper, cumin, coriander, ginger, and cinnamon is generously sprinkled all over the chops.   Grilled over direct heat to sear and then finished over indirect heat, these chops come of the grill moist on the inside and crusted on the outside. Perfect for any brisk afternoon or evening, make these autumn nights a breeze with the Autumn Grill Series.

Servings: 4

Bourbon & Vanilla Pork Chops Ingredients

For the brine

  • 1 oz. kosher salt (1/4 cup if using Diamond Crystal; 2 Tbs. if using Morton)
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 3 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. unsulfured molasses
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 4 bone-in pork rib chops (1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inches thick; 2 to 3 lb. total)

For the spice rub

  • 1 Tbsp. sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 1 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp. ground dried sage
  • 1-1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tsp. ground cayenne
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon

Bourbon & Vanilla Pork Chops Directions

Brine the pork chops

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups warm water with the brine ingredients; stir until dissolved. Add 1 cup ice to the bowl and stir to quickly cool the brine to at least 45°F.
  2. Put the chops in a 9×9-inch (or similar size) baking dish and pour the brine over the chops. They should be submerged. Cover with plastic wrap and put on a tray (in case of spills); refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours (3 hours for thinner chops, 4 hours for thicker ones). Remove the chops from the brine (discard the brine), and pat them dry.

Make the spice rub

  1. Combine all of the spice rub ingredients in a small bowl or jar.

Grill the chops

  1. Prepare a gas or charcoal grill fire for indirect cooking over medium-high heat (400°F to 450°F).
  2. Sprinkle 2 to 3 Tbs. total of the spice rub generously over all sides of the chops. Grill the chops over direct heat, flipping once, until dark brown grill marks form on both sides, about 2 minutes per side (move them to indirect heat if any flare-ups occur). Once the chops are well marked, move them to the cooler side of the grill and cook until their internal temperature registers 140°F to 145°F on an instant-read thermometer, 4 to 6 minutes more per side. Transfer the chops to a serving platter, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

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