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Grilled Goodies Redux: Orange-Ginger Pork Chops

Pork Chops

Deric is learning how to cook. He’s one of the latest additions to the Clan, as he was adopted a couple years back. He’s spending the summer at the Ranch, working and learning. He wants to know everything about cooking! Unfortunately, he wants to know it all before morning. (I’m that good, just not that fast anymore.)

I’m teaching him the fine art of the grill.

I found some nice pork chops, loin cut and not too thick, for a good price, at the same time I got the pineapple and stuff for Saturday’s feast. Marinating the chops sounded like a good idea to me, and Deric wanted to learn about marinades anyway. So we had cooking class after lunch (and a nap).

The star of the marinade was a jar of orange-ginger marmalade I found on the pantry shelf. Really nice-smelling, with big, juicy chunks of fruit and ginger in it. I don’t eat this kind of thing on toast or biscuits, but I’m always on the lookout for novel-tasting jams, jellies and marmalades as bases for marinades and cooking sauces. For instance, I routinely use blackberry or red currant jelly to make the sauce (some might even say gravy) when I prepare pan-sautéed pork chops. Pork matches well with sweeter sauces too, in my opinion. I wouldn’t try the jelly on steaks, for instance. (Maybe it’s great, but it’s certainly not my style.)

Starting with about 3 oz of the marmalade, we added teriyaki sauce, a bit of soy, and some lemon juice. Each addition I had Deric read a bit of the label, then taste the ingredient by itself so he could see what sort of flavors were being included. We also included some spicy brown mustard and a liberal squeeze of sriracha sauce. I know, it sounds like the marinade might be too zesty. However, my experience has taught me that these materials don’t add large amounts of flavor, even when they’re included in significant quantities. Marinades provide a light touch, complementing the basic flavor of the meat.

Deric asked me about the “basic idea” behind a marinade. I said it was to deliver flavor to meat, poultry or fish. (Even veggies.) He really wanted to know the types of ingredients. I pointed out that the general idea was to include an acid (vinegar, citrus), an oil, and flavorants. Rather like a vinaigrette! Which got him off on another tangent, and I had to drag him back to the topic at hand. Marinades.

Ginger

We finished up with some olive oil, pepper and dried herbs. We rinsed the chops and put them in a one-gallon zip-top plastic bag. I poured in the sauce while whisking, to be sure all the flavorful goodies went into the bag. I taught Deric how to close the bag while excluding air, and then he had the fun of squishing the juice around to coat the meat. Then into the chill chest with the bag, inside a bowl (of course). Time for the meat to rest! (Me too; another nap didn’t seem like such a bad idea.)

After a few hours of soaking up those delightful flavors, we hotted up the grill and zapped those chops. Only about 3-4 minutes on each side, turning once. I didn’t use the marinade as basting liquid, since the meat was on the grill such a short time. It would have hardly been worth using the grill if we hadn’t had some nice ear corn to cook. We started the corn well before the meat, turning it a quarter turn about every four minutes or so. The sweet corn is great this time of year, and goes so well with pork chops.

The meal came out so well, we had folks from miles around dropping by to eat. (Actually, Granny and Kai walked over from the main house, all of a couple hundred yards.) Our biggest fan, Sonia the Red Golden, was disappointed at how little was left on the plates at the end. She kept giving us doleful looks, like maybe we were hiding the usual bones from her. I finally took pity on her and gave her the gravy bowl to lick. It wasn’t completely satisfactory, but at least she quit giving me that perncious, hangdog stare.

Nobody noticed, but I saved back a couple of the chops for tomorrow’s dinner. I just hope Kai doesn’t look in the fridge, way in the back, under the butter tub, to see what might be hidden there. If he does, I’ll go hungry…

Enjoy the (Gingery Pork Chop) Heat!

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