Last night, a break in the rain motivated me to fetch the hibachi out of my garage. Three defrosted boneless pork chops were languishing in a brine in the fridge. If a window of cleared-sky opportunity was cracked even briefly, how could I pass up a chance to grill over coals my very first fresh pork chops?
Although I prepared the brine last night, I still wasn’t fully prepared for the recipe I chose to inaugurate the fresh pork in my freezer. I had exactly 20 brickettes of charcoal, no newspaper in the house, and I hadn’t cleaned out the hibachi from the last time I used it 3 or so months ago. However, I had most of the ingredients. My first fresh pork chops were about to be martyred to my lack of forward planning.
But I made the most of 20 brickettes. Coming up with the paper to light the coals in the chimney was a little harder, but tonight’s venture reinforced a lesson I learned last summer: you really don’t need as many coals as you think. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that 20 brickettes suffices for any chop on a hibachi.
The recipe I decided to make, Grilled Pork Porterhouse with Apple-Maple-Ginger Sauce, came from the NYTs. In the end, I was disappointed with it. Too many ingredients that resulted in a brine not nearly as flavorful as Thomas Keller’s much simpler basic brine for poultry, in a coriander-infused oil that was overwhelmed completely by the sauce, and said sauce that ninety-percent of the population would have found too sweet. Apple juice plus maple syrup plus vanilla bean = too sweet. I should have left out the vanilla altogether. Whoever it was that devised that recipe was obviously shooting for a Laotian or Thai effect, but the recipe is too busy to focus.
I grilled the 1 1/2-inch thick chops for about 7-8 mins a side over the 20 coals. The meat was moist and tender, the flavor of the charcoal was smoky, and the fat was flavorful. Pretty good, but it didn’t make me sing. I saved a third chop for lunch today. At the risk of drying it out, I warmed it in a 325 oven. To my surprise, the meat was still tender and moist. I swear the flavor or the meat improved.
So, all right, we’re off to a good start.