Written by adam on Jan 18, 2006
A Treatise on Grilling, part 4
A Feast That Walks Along the Ground
If you are a novice griller, then pork chops are what you should practice your grilling techniques. It is terribly difficult to mess up pork chops. All that needs adjustment is the amount of grill time on each side of the chop.
The biggest issue with pork is the health concern. You probably have heard your grandmother or mother tell you to cook pork until it is good and done and all the nasty germs are destroyed. That sentiment was the norm a long time ago when the living conditions of the pig were very poor, there were feces in the pigís feed, and disease was rampant. In fact, it is widely accepted now that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died of complications from trichinosis, a pork-born parasite that causes flu-like symptoms and then death if not treated. That was then, and this is now.
Conditions on modern pig farms are vastly superior to those in Mozartís day and far superior to anything we saw 50 years ago. They are clean, healthy, and pigs generally eat the purest of corn feed that money can buy. I cannot stomach putting pink pork meat into my mouth. It's a psychological thing. I've seen people do it, and I do accept that it is safe. All Jewish sentiments aside, let's just remember Sam Jackson's comments in Pulp Fiction: "A pig is a filthy animal. I won't anything that ain't got sense enough not to sleep in it's own feces."
Make the Cut
A while back, I was extremely ignorant about where all the cuts of meat come from on the pig and what they were called. For instance, what is a Boston Butt and how is it different from the shoulder? Where on the pig is that cut? This handy graphic should help you with the basics of pork knowledge.
Incidentally, there is no difference between Boston Butt and shoulder. They are the same delicious cut of meat. At barbeque cook-offs, the shoulder can be one of the fiercest competition. Generally, the shoulder is barbequed and then shredded or, pulled, and then set atop a bun or some lettuce. A pulled pork sandwich.
Let me just touch on the basics of pork chop grilling. It is one of the simplest things to do, easier than steak even. Personally, I like to grill really thick chops and slice into them really thin on my plate.
Light your grill, charcoal of course, and let the coals burn down to a slow, hot burn - completely covered in ash. The chops need only some seasoning before you hit the grill. I like to start with salt and pepper then sprinkle on some sort of seasoned salt like Special Shit or some mix from Emeril Lagasse. Rub it on liberally, then hit the grill. A 1-inch thick cut of pork should probably be grilled about 8-10 minutes, depending on how hight above the holy fires you have the grill grate.
Lately when grilling any meat, I've been using the sear then set aside method. Lube your grate, then throw the chops directly over the coals. Sear each side for about 3 minutes. You can use the forty-five flip turn here or just flip them once. After searing, pull the chops off the coals and set aside to cook indirectly. 1-inch chops will need another 5-8 minutes of indirect heat to cook through.
It's so strange that the easiest animal to cook on the grill can be the most feared. Oh sure, ribs and shoulder do carry with them an air of mystique that the most seasoned of grill masters can understand. But you need not fear. Ribs are easy too, and maybe another day I will cover that topic.
Sources: The Daily Pork, Ask the Meatman, Cook's Thesaurus