While friends and relatives in lower and warmer climes harvest strawberries, brag about their huge beds of towering annuals, and swill a cold one on the patio, I’m still making big vats of soup we’re snarfing down watching “Designated Survivor” episodes snuggled up under afghans.
It’s not that we haven’t had beautiful and sunny weather; we have. But then winter comes back to bite us in the
butt behind. Tuesday, we had nearly a foot of snow fall in our yard and some parts of town had nigh unto 20 inches.
Living in a dramatically dry land with a long history of fires in and out of town, we say nothing about the wet white stuff most of the time. A big snow on May 21, however, brought serious complaints, especially as the late heavy downfall resulted in thousands of downed branches and trees as well as lost plantings.
Gardens had been covered, sprinkler systems drained. Pots and deck chair cushions snuggled oddly indoors for a couple more below-freezing nights. Interstates closed and chain laws went into effect elsewhere. We settled down to bear with it as there was little else to do.
By yesterday, this was the view out my front door. The grass is twice as green as before and we’re planning for-real Memorial Day barbecues. I even bought three racks of St. Louis ribs yesterday because cooking (and gardening) hope is never-ending in Colorado.
But Tuesday night, in the middle of the snowfall, I was just dreaming about early summer grilling.
I had Memorial Day weekend on my mind and was imagining long Sangria nights on the deck, knowing there was a late May blog post to accomplish one way or the other. The thick, juicy chops that were supposed to go on the gas grill ended up on my trusty stove top grill pan. This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced, “Alyce plans, God laughs.”
If by chance you don’t have one of these pans in your kitchen, think about buying one. I have three, each a different size, and all are well-used precious tools.
Since making a batch of chimichurri sauce for a party a couple of weeks ago, I kept thinking about whirring together another bowlful to serve on pork. Maybe it would be gracing a rosy pork tenderloin, one of God’s perfect summer grill foods. I could use it as a sauce for ribs, which I’ve done before. (Link to that recipe below.) But when I saw bone-in pork chops on sale at the store, this meal seemed meant to be. If you’re tempted to use boneless chops, I’ll try hard to dissuade you though I know they come in large inexpensive and convenient packs.
Trust me: thick, bone-in chops are tastier, juicier, and take to brining like a fish to water.
WHAT IS CHIMICHURRI? (chih-mee-CHUR-ree)
Argentine in its origins, chimichurri is typically made of finely-chopped parsley, minced garlic, oregano and white vinegar – though there are regional variations, with Uruguay adding red pepper flakes for an added kick. The name’s origin is unclear. Numerous linguists hold the name, chimichurri, as derived from Basque’s tximitxurri, pronounced chee-mee-CHOO-ree; stumbling interpreted as ‘a mix of several things in no special order’.from “A Brief History of Chimichurri” on culturetrip.com
My almost instant version of the sauce is a bit outside its typical parameters in more than one way, but I like it like that. It’s based on an old BON APPETIT recipe and suits me perfectly. There’s no cilantro or cumin in the traditional sauce, which is stirred together–not pulsed in a trusty food process like mine. Here’s a closer-to-Argentinian version if you’d like it.
Chimichurri is found on an Argentinian table a lot of the time and, if you try this, I’m guessing it’ll land up on top your food more than a few times this summer. It’ll dress up and make irresistible plain old chicken kebabs, sirloin steak, roasted shrimp, a grilled turkey breast, or some thick old chops. In a pinch, the sauce could double as a marinade or salad dressing. Some folks want a lot of heat; mine has a simple small, but real kick. Double or triple the amount of crushed red pepper if you’re a heat seeker. However you make it–and hopefully you can be outdoors when you do– try this:
Chimichurri Pork Chops
- 1/3 cup kosher salt
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 4 bone-in loin pork chops, 1-inch thick
- 1 cup curly parsley
- 1/4 cup cilantro
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Brine the pork chops
- Place a gallon plastic bag in medium bowl and add about 2 quarts of water. Mix in the salt, sugar, and rosemary sprigs. Close and massage bag with your hands to mix well. Open bag and add the pork chops. Seal bag well, massage again to mix, and place bowl in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or up to overnight.
Make the chimichurri sauce
- Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well-blended. Taste and adjust seasonings. Set aside while you grill the chops.
Grill the pork chops, let rest, and serve with sauce
- Heat a stovetop grill over medium flame and brush the ridges with the canola oil OR prepare a charcoal or gas grill for indirect grilling over medium heat– 350 degrees F. Brush the grill grate with oil. While the grill heats, remove the chops and rosemary sprigs from the brine, rinse, and pat dry with paper towels. Cut the rosemary sprigs in half so you have four pieces. Discard brine. Season meat well with salt and pepper.
- Stovetop grill: Place chops on grill pan, top each with a small sprig rosemary, and cook about 7 minutes on each side or until temperature is 140 degrees F* using an instant-read thermometer. (Insert thermometer horizontally away from bone.) You can set the rosemary aside and add it again after turning the chops. Charcoal or gas grill: Set up for indirect grilling Grill on each side 2-3 minutes over direct heat until good grill marks appear, then move to indirect heat area and cover the grill, cooking for 13-15 mintues more or until chop's temperature is at 140 degrees F.* Remove from grill and let rest 2-3 minutes.
- Serve hot garnished with chimichurri sauce.
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Happy start of summer, friends,