Saturday, August 30, 2014

Grilled Pork Chops, Brined in Crispin Hard Cider

Damian Hirtz, the man who owns my CrossFit gym, turned me on to one of summer's greatest pleasures: Crispin Hard Apple Cider. Served ice cold, it refreshes the palate far better than any beer can. There are different flavors out there and most of them are sweet. I don't like sweet, so I buy Crispin's Classic English Dry Cider It's crisp and smooth and very dry. So dry, in fact, that you will never have to urinate after drinking a glass or two.

So I love Crispin and I love pork chops. Pork is a very mild meat and I find it is always enhanced by brining. Fruit based brines always work well with pork, so why not try a little Crispin for my pork chops? Marriage made in heaven. Now when I'm done grilling, I like to add a little glaze. I usually add a balsamic glaze, which I typically make by reducing a half-cup of balsamic vinegar  to a quarter cup. But Costco came to the rescue with a new product they started carrying: Blaze Graze. They've taken Modena Balsamic Vinegar and reduced it to a glaze for you. Just pop the top and pour!

4 thick-cut, bone-in pork chops
1 1/2 cups Crispin Dry Hard Cider
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
5 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon juniper berries
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 chunk hickory wood


  1. Place pork chops in a resealable bag, along with the cider, sugar, brown sugar, salt, thyme, bay leaves, ground mustard and juniper berries. Tightly seal and squish around to combine. Place in the refrigerator for 3 hours.
  2. Remove pork chops from refrigerator about 30 minutes before you're ready to cook them. Discard brine and pat meat dry using a paper towel.
  3. Light a chimney full of charcoal. When coals are white hot, spread them on the coal grate and add hickory chunk.
  4. Rub chops with olive oil. Place chops on grill over coals. Cover and cook for 5 minutes per side.
  5. When done cooking, remove chops from grill, tent with foil and let them rest for 5 minutes. Then serve with balsamic glaze (optional).

Wine pairing: A big, fruity Zinfandel

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