Food Swings: Pork Chops & Asparagus
By Jacob Mathias
Hello dear readers. Welcome to what will be the first a nearly weekly segment that we like to call “Food Swings.” Food swings began years ago when I was working at my school newspaper and has sat dormant for over a year now, but it’s back again with fervor.
One thing you have to understand before we begin: I love food. Some people see eating as a daily chore like vacuuming, walking the dog or taking out the trash. I cook using one basic philosophy: don’t eat to live, live to eat. Make each meal an adventure if you can. Try a new recipe at least once a week, make from scratch what you can and when in doubt, add bacon.
When it comes down to it, the equation is cooking=food+fire, so that’s where we’re going to start today. Our fire is going to come from a grill. It’s nice outside. Enjoy it. Eating outside is scientifically proven to increase tastiness by 83% according to an experiment I just invent in my head.
Today we’re going to be making grilled pork chops with a side of asparagus.
Just so we’re clear: pork is the greatest meat of all time. I use it all the time and you’re going to see it here a lot.
To begin you’ll need some pork. Pick up however many one inch thick bone-in pork chops you’ll need to feed you and yours (try Ski’s Meat Market for a great cut and product).
You’ll want to brine your pork for at least a few hours before grilling. Brining adds moisture and flavor to your meat by allowing it to soak in a flavored water mixture. To brine 4 pork chops, combine:
1 quart water 1 cup kosher salt 1 cup brown sugar 2 bay leaves 1 tbsp. black peppercorns 1 sprig of thyme
Whisk ingredients together in a saucepan and simmer for about 5 minutes to meld flavors together. Add one tray of ice cubes to hot liquid and stir until cool to touch. Submerge the chops and allow to brine for about four hours.
Drain chops of brine, pat dry, and season on both sides with kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Place the chops on a medium hot grill. After ten minutes, turn the chops 90 degrees. This will give you the cool crisscross grill marks that will impress your family or guests. Wait five minutes and flip your pork chops. Allow the chops to continue cooking until they reach an internal temperature of about 140 degrees Fahrenheit before removing from the grill.
When the pork is about five minutes from done, put your asparagus on the grill. Buy asparagus in late spring for best results. Don’t buy anything much thicker than a pencil. Look for the best asparagus at the Stevens Point or Plover Farmers’ Markets.
Before cooking the asparagus, drizzle lightly with olive oil and season with kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Remove the asparagus at the same time as the pork. It should be slightly charred and tender but not mushy.
Serve outside on a patio or picnic table with a few ice cold beers or pitcher of sangria for ultimate enjoyment.
And remember, live to eat!