Despite the chillin', it's grillin' time!


I know the weather has been, let us say, less than cooperative. Spring is taking it's sweet time getting here and leaving us to Summer. Yes, there have been days when we've been able to get out the grill or smoker and have at it. And, yes, there are those hearty souls who grill or smoke all year 'round. Dave Johnson, Manager of the Hy-Vee Wine and Spirits on Center Point Road and Blairs Ferry Road NE recently posted on the FB that he smokes meat maybe 6 times a week. That's a serious investment of time and effort, but you and I know it's all worth it.

Every day, when I leave the station, I stop by the Hy-Vee to see if they have any last minute sales in the meat department. Occasionally, I find something amazing. Years ago, I found a half dozen 8-ounce thick cut NY Strip steaks priced at 99 cents apiece. It was a mistake, but they owned up to it and sold them at that price. I don't find anything that crazy nowadays, but I did find a set of thick cut, bone-in Iowa Pork Chops at $2.99 a pound. Usually, I'll buy the whole mess of them, and that's why I have two freezers full of meat I need to grill, smoke, braise, sous vide, or otherwise prepare. Anyway...

My first rule of pork and poultry is that is must be brined. Since this was just two chops, it was a simple, cold water brine of five cups of water with a 1/2 cup each of sugar and kosher salt, and various spices. I don't even measure them, but add granulated onion and garlic, freshly ground clove and black peppercorns, cayenne pepper and cinnamon. That's my secret ingredient...cinnamon. It turns the flavor profile off by, like, ten degrees, and people enjoy it and cannot identify it. Brine it for five hours, sloshing it around in the container a few times.

An hour before grilling, pull the chops, rinse them and dry them thoroughly, placing them on a raised rack. Half an hour before grilling, dry them again and season with your favorite. I have a PHAT Daddy's seasoning that is perfect. Prep the grill and make sure it's on high heat. I have a pellet grill that I purchased from the estate of a longtime Open Line listener. After he passed, his sister reached out to me to let me know of the seldom-used grill and I had to buy it. No. I actually had to buy it because our gas grill had broken.

These were two inch thick chops, and I grilled them four minutes per side, then went back for two minutes on each side to cross the grill marks. They'll rest for ten minutes. I made a bagged Caesar salad and an interesting side dish; quinoa with Mexican Street Corn. Kirkland has the street corn, and it comes in I think four servings of 14 ounces per. I instant potted the quinoa with beef broth instead of using just water.

It was a delicious meal and got me thinking of all of the meat in the freezer. My boys bought me a HUGE brisket and it's waiting. I'm sure it'll be a two-day thaw. Pork roasts and tenderloins, sausages, ribs and chickens...spatchcocked chickens are my FAVORITE!

Having an egg as well as a pellet grill is going to be an awesome thing this summer. I'm looking forward to sharing the stories of all the meals, the proteins, the sides, the salads and desserts...and I promise there'll be pictures, too!


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