Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Taking Pork Chops to New Levels: Herb-Grilled Pork Chops with Shallot-Lemon Butter

Do you ever get in the mood for a particular food...and then you can't shake the craving? Who am I kidding...if you’re reading this post, you obviously enjoy food. That means this experience has happened to you, likely on a regular basis! This happened to me over the weekend -- I was in the mood for pork chops, but I wanted a flavorful recipe to add to my repertoire. I found an great recipe on the Cooking Light website for pork chops that marinate in an herb-infused olive oil mixture before a quick sear on the grill. Right before serving, they’re topped with a shallot-lemon compound butter for extra flavor and moisture. This combo takes pork chops to a whole new flavor level!!

I couldn’t get this recipe out of my mind, so I picked up some pork chops at the grocery store and headed into the kitchen to make it for our dinner last night. I made a few tweaks to the original recipe to use ingredients already on hand in my kitchen. I subbed fresh sage for the thyme called for in the recipe, and I used green onion tops in place of chives. I also added a generous squeeze of lemon juice to my marinade to mirror the lemon zest in the compound butter. Finally, I added a bit dried parsley to the butter for a pop of green color. This dish is simple and quick enough to whip up on a busy weeknight, but it’s also fancy enough to serve to company. You’re going to want to make this recipe very soon…I promise!

Herb-Grilled Pork Chops with Shallot-Lemon Butter
adapted from Cooking Light

Step 1: Add the following ingredients to a large bowl: 2-3 tbs. olive oil, 1 tbs. lemon juice, 2 grated or finely chopped garlic cloves, 1 tsp. finely chopped rosemary, 1 tsp. finely chopped sage, 1.5 tsp. thin-sliced green onion (top only),  ½ tsp. salt, and a few grinds black pepper. Stir to combine, then add four ½-inch center-cut pork chops – either boneless or bone-in. Swipe both sides in the herb mixture, then put them in the fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes. If you have a couple of hours, that’s even better.

Step 2: Make the compound butter by placing the following ingredients in a small bowl: 2 tbs. softened butter (salted), 1.5 tsp. finely diced shallot, 1 tsp. lemon zest, and 1 tsp. dried parsley. Stir until all ingredients are combined and set aside. Remove pork chops from fridge and sprinkle each side with salt and pepper. Heat grill pan over med-high heat until hot – about 5 five minutes. I brushed mine with a bit more olive oil, but that might not be necessary.

Step 3: Cook the pork chops for 3-4 minute per side. This will cook them through, leave pretty grill marks, and ensure the chops stay moist. Just before serving, top each chop with ¼ of the compound butter. You can serve these chops with mashed potatoes, rice…or you can do what I did: serve them with these creamy cheese grits, also from Cooking Light. They’re one of my go-to sides, and they pair perfectly with these fresh-tasting pork chops!

These pork chops are bursting with flavor…the herb-oil marinate forms a nice coating as the meat sears. Then, the shallots and lemon zest in the butter give it just enough moistness…and an extra boost of bright flavor. Mercy…these pork chops are good, especially when eaten along with the cheesy grits! It was a comforting meal that we enjoyed in front of a fireplace on a chilly Texas evening. I will definitely be making these chops again for sure…any combination of fresh herbs you have on hand should work nicely – thyme, chervil, and tarragon for sure.

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