Anybody who knows Emily, or who has followed her Made Man work from the beginning knows her favorite drink in all the land is a horsefeather — a perfect combination of rye whiskey or bourbon, spicy ginger beer, and sometimes bitters. Anybody who knows Kyle, or who has followed this column from the beginning knows he really, really, really loves pork. This week’s recipe, Grilled Pork Chops with Horsefeather Applesauce, combines all of our favorite things in a simple yet satisfying entree.
Pork chops on the grill are one of the highlights of our summer menu rotation. While we often brine them ourselves, we cheated a bit this time and bought some pre-brined chops from our butcher — and we recommend you do the same if you’re short on time. Whether you brine or not, make sure to get something “bone-in” (might we recommend the center cut bone-in chop?). The bone will help the finished product in many ways: it will add flavor, it will help the chop cook more evenly, and it will make for a better-looking pork chop on the plate.
You can play around with the applesauce recipe, but we offer up a pretty solid, slightly boozy base with which to start. It can be served hot if you want to make it while grilling, or you can do it ahead, store it covered in the fridge and pull it out about an hour before you’re ready to use it so it comes to room temperature. The onions make it savory, but it’s not that far away from an apple pie filling, which makes it pretty much the perfect thing to put on top of a big hunk of grilled pork.
Grilled Pork Chops with Horsefeather Applesauce
2 thick-cut, bone-in pork chops
Salt and pepper
1 Tablespoon your favorite bbq rub
For the applesauce:
2 apples, ½ inch dice
1 leek, well rinsed and sliced
2 Tablespoons butter
Healthy shot rye whiskey
½ shot Grand Marnier
¼ cup ginger beer
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon vanilla
To prepare the pork chops, drizzle each with olive and season with salt, pepper, and your favorite barbecue rub. Allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before grilling.
Set your grill up with the coals covering half of the grilling area. Sear the chops directly over the coals, turning often, for 4-5 minutes. Once the chops have started to show some caramelization, place them on the side of the grill away from the fire, place the lid on top with the vents still open and allow to cook for approximately 15 more minutes, until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 145º. Remove from grill, cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 minutes. Serve with applesauce.
To make the sauce, melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the leeks and the apples and cook until the apples are softened but not mushy (at this point we like to add a liberal amount of salt and pepper, but that’s optional). Add the shot of whiskey and stir the apples to allow them a bit of time to absorb some of the booze while some evaporates, about 15-30 seconds. Then, add the ginger beer and the Grand Marnier and allow the liquid to reduce by half, stirring occasionally. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, lemon juice, and vanilla. Stir together and as soon as the ingredients are incorporated and the brown sugar has dissolved, remove the from heat to cool or serve immediately with the chops.