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Wood-Smoked Pork Chops

Rodney Strong - Wood-Smoked Pork Chops

Recipe by Chef Jeff Mall, down home: downtown


Pork Chops:
One 12-ounce bottle microbrewed beer
1⁄4 cup kosher salt
1⁄4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
2 cups water
4 thick-cut bone-in pork chops (about 21⁄2 pounds total)

1 cup granulated sugar
4 Granny Smith apples (about 2 pounds total), peeled, cored, and cut into 1⁄2-inch dice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Pinch of kosher salt
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups apple wood smoking chips

Corn Bread Stuffing:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 andouille sausage (about 8 ounces), diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded, deribbed, and diced
1⁄4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves
1⁄2 cup chicken broth or stock
4 cups crumbled corn bread (about half an 8-inch square pan of corn bread)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Rainbow Chard:
2 bunches rainbow chard or Swiss chard (about 11⁄2 pounds total), stemmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon organic apple cider vinegar, such as Nana Mae’s
1⁄2 cup chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


For the pork chops: In a large bowl, combine the beer, salt, sugar, molasses, Sriracha hot sauce, garlic, peppercorns, and thyme. Add the water and stir until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Add the pork chops, cover, and refrigerate for 12 hours.

For the applesauce: In a large, heavy skillet, melt the sugar over medium-high heat, shaking the pan frequently, until it just begins to turn golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the apples, lime juice, and salt. (The caramel will clump, but will melt as the applesauce cooks; add a little water to melt it if necessary.) Cook, stirring often and adjusting the heat as needed to prevent scorching, until the apples are soft and caramelized a light brown color, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cinnamon. Set aside.

For the corn bread stuffing: Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, turning, until well browned on all sides, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the onion, celery, and green pepper and sauté until the onion is translucent and soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the parsley, sage, and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Put the corn bread in a large, shallow 8-cup baking dish and pour the onion mixture over the corn bread. Stir gently to coat and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to the oven and bake until browned, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and keep warm.

While the stuffing is baking, prepare a charcoal grill for indirect-heat cooking, mounding the hot coals on one side of the grill. Remove the pork from the brine (discard the brine) and pat dry. Soak the apple wood chips in warm water for 10 minutes; drain. Sprinkle the apple wood chips over the coals and place the pork chops on the indirect-heat area of the grill (not over the coals). Cover the grill and smoke the pork chops for 20 minutes. Remove the cover and open the vents to increase the heat; if needed, add a few more coals. Move the pork chops to the direct-heat area of the grill and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side for medium. Transfer to a plate and tent with aluminum foil; let rest for 5 minutes.

For the rainbow chard: Coarsely chop the chard leaves. In a large skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Add the onion and sauté until golden, about 5 minutes. Working in batches, add the chard and cook until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the vinegar and chicken broth, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the chard is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside and keep warm.

To serve, reheat the applesauce over low heat. Spoon a mound of corn bread stuffing into the center of each of 4 dinner plates. Top each with one-fourth of the chard. Lean a pork chop against each mound and add a spoonful of applesauce.

Makes 4 main-course servings.

Photography by Alan Campbell Photography

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