Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Barbecued Pork Chop

           This dish is the culmination of my last couple of posts. The spicy whiskey & chipotle bbq sauce is perfect for grilled pork chops. The sweet & tangy grilled corn salsa goes great with the spicy bbq pork chop. To round things out, I serve the chops on a bed of sauteed collard greens. The bitterness of the greens cuts right through the sweetness and heat of the chops & salsa. If you can't find collard greens, any bitter green will do the trick, such as kale or rapini.
         When it comes to buying the pork chops, make sure they are really thick, at least 3/4". If you can't find thick cut pork chops at your local grocery store, it's worth the trip to a butcher shop to get some serious chops. Wimpy, thin cut pork chops will be woefully overcooked by the time you put any sort of grill marks on them. Most people mistakenly believe that you have to cook pork thoroughly, until it is essentially well done, but this is a misconception. If you don't want to take my word for it, even the FDA says that it's ok to serve pork at 63C, which is a perfect medium with a nice rosy pink center. A pork chop cooked to 63C will be nice & tender and plenty juicy. An instant-read digital thermometer will tell you exactly when it's time to take your chops off the grill.

Prep time 20 minutes. Cooking time 15 minutes. Serves 4

4 thick cut pork chops
200ml whiskey & chipotle bbq sauce
2 bunches collard greens (about 6 cups chopped)
60g (1/4 cup) butter
2 cups grilled corn salsa
salt & fresh ground black pepper

Preheat the grill to high

1. Season the pork chops with salt & pepper. Use a brush to apply a generous amount of bbq sauce to each side of all the pork chops. Place the pork chops on the grill and cook on one side until nicely charred, about 5-6 minutes. Turn the pork chops and grill the other side. Use the brush to apply another layer of bbq sauce to each chop. Lower the heat of the grill, or if using charcoal, move the chops to a cooler side of the grill. Close the lid and continue cooking the chops until they reach an internal temperature of 63 degrees Celsius, about 8 - 10 minutes.

2. While the chops are cooking, combine the chopped collard greens and butter in a large frying pan or pot. Add 1/4 cup water and season with salt & pepper. Saute the greens until soft, about 6 minutes. When cooked, place the greens in a strainer to allow excess moister to drip off.

To serve: Place a pile of sauteed collard greens in the center of each plate. Top with grilled pork chop and then garnish each chop with 1/2 cup grilled corn salsa.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Grilled Corn Salsa

      This salsa is pretty much just a bowlful of summer. Sweet corn, bright flavours and a little smokiness from the grill.  This salsa makes a good topping for almost any grilled dish, whether it's beef, pork, chicken or even fish. I made it to go along with a grilled pork chop with collard greens. The freshness of the salsa was the perfect match for the spicy whiskey & chipotle barbecue sauce that I used to glaze my ribs. If you want you can even make the salsa itself a little spicy by adding some chopped fresh jalapenos.

     I used a plain white onion in my salsa, but you can experiment with different kinds, like red onions or green onions. For the vinegar, I used cider vinegar, but pretty much any flavour will work.

Prep time: 10 minutes Cooking time 10 minutes makes 2 cups salsa


4 cobs fresh corn
1 large red bell pepper
1/4 onions, finely dices
1/4 fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil

1. Brush the red pepper with oil and then grill on high heat until the skin has turned black on all sides. Place the pepper in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. The steam from the pepper will loosen the skin making it easier to peel. Use a knife to scrape off all of the skin and then cut into small cubes.

2. Shuck the corn and then grill it on medium-high heat until some of the kernels just start to turn black. Cut the kernels off the cob and then place in a mixing bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients.

The salsa will benefit from at least one hour in the fridge to let the flavours marry. It's even better the next day. It will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.  

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Whiskey & Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

There are few sauces I enjoy making more than homemade barbecue sauce. Sure it's not as fancy or chic as The Classic French Sauces, like Beurre Blanc or Demi-Glace, but it's as delicious a sauce as they come. What I love most about a good barbecue sauce is that it will hit on all the types of flavours at once: sweet, salty, sour, spicy, bitter and umami. Making a good barbecue sauce is a true balancing act.
       This barbecue sauce packs a nice spicy kick thanks to the chipotle peppers, but is balanced out by a supporting cast of ingredients. Brown sugar brings the sweet, red wine vinegar the tang, and a healthy dose of whiskey adds a nice bitter edge. The key to working with spirits in a sauce is to add a little at the beginning of the cooking process as well as a little at the end. You want to add most at the beginning so that the alcohol will burn off and the flavour will mellow, but you also want to add a splash at the end to bring back that raw whiskey flavour. 
       This whiskey & chipotle bbq sauce is really versatile and works for any recipe where you want a spicy kick, weither it's chicken, pork or beef. The first dish that I made with it was grilled pork chops with a corn salsa and it turned out great. I'll be posting a recipe for that dish soon.

     I guarantee you that once you try making your first homemade barbecue sauce, you will be anxious to go back and try another recipe. If you have already tried your hand at making homemade bbq, hopefully this is one that you can add to your repertoire. There are so many variations to try: lime & ginger, mango chili, even dark chocolate. My signature recipe is smoked maple syrup. I may post the recipe for that one soon, but for now it is a closely guarded secret! If there is any barbecue sauce recipe that you would like to see me post in the future, just make a request in the comments section.

Prep time: 10 minutes. Cooking time 20 minutes. Makes 500ml


 1L         (4 cups)           canned tomatoes
 125 ml  (1/2 cup)          chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
 250 ml  (1 cup)             chopped onions
                     4               cloves garlic
155ml (1/2 cup + 2 tbs) whiskey
 60 ml (1/4 cup)             red wine vinegar
 30 ml (2tbs)                  worchestershire
 30ml  (2tbs)                  djion mustard  
250 ml (1 cup)               brown sugar
             2 tbs                 vegetable oil            

1. Heat 2 tbs vegetable oil in a sauce pot and then add the onions. Allow the onions to brown ( about 5 minutes) and then deglaze with a 1/4 cup water. Continue browning the onions for a further 5 minutes and then add the garlic. Stir constantly and then add 125ml (1/2 cup) whiskey. Be careful when you add the whiskey because it will probably ignite, causing a very big flame.

2. Add the vinegar and sugar and let reduce until the mix is syrupy.

3. Add the tomatoes, djion mustard & chipotle pepper and let simmer gently for 20 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and then puree with a blender. Stir in 2 tablespoons whiskey. Homemade barbecue sauce will keep for up to one month in the fridge.