Monday, September 24, 2012

pork and pomegranate

This weekend Jon and I realized we were on borrowed time. Temperatures started to dip, indicating that the end of grilling season is near, and our baby officially became full-term (!!), meaning evenings at home with just the two of us are numbered. So rather than spending the late afternoon wallowing in the Redskins' defeat, we rushed off to The Organic Butcher in McLean and picked up two meaty pork chops. And, ignoring my dear husband's fruit aversion, I got crazy and slipped a pomegranate into the bag, too. 

Once home, we were off to our corners--Jon to the grill, I working kitchen stove top. For the pork chops he used a glaze found in this year's September/October Cook's Illustrated, and I focused on learning how to seed a pomegranate without ruining my wardrobe, as well as using up what was left of our backyard parsley. The results were summer-swan-song spectacular.

Couscous salad with pomegranate:
- 1/2 c. uncooked quinoa
- 1 c. uncooked Israeli couscous
- seeds from 1 pomegranate
- 1/3 cup golden raisins, chopped
- 4-5 scallions, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 c. chopped parsley
- 1/2 c. chopped mint
- 2 T extra virgin olive oil
- juice from one lemon
- fresh-ground salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the quinoa and the couscous as instructed, and toss with remaining ingredients. (Yes, it's that simple!)
Pork chops/glaze:
- 2 one-inch-thick pork chops
- 3 T salt
- 1 T vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 tsp honey
- 1 tsp anchovy paste
- 1/2 tsp pepper

Cut two slits about 1 inch apart through the outer layer of fat on each chop. Dissolve salt in about 1 quart of water in a large bowl and submerge chops. Allow to brine for 30 minutes. In the meantime, turn gas grill on high, and heat until hot--about 15 minutes. Whisk together oil, honey, anchovy paste, and pepper, and set aside. Remove pork chops from brine and pat completely dry. Using a spoon, spread half of oil mixture over one side of each chop. Place chops, oiled side down, uncovered over the hot part of the grill, until well brown on first side, about 4 to 6 minutes. Spread remaining oil mixture evenly over face-up side of chops. Flip chops and continue to cook, covered, for another 4 minutes or until  the chops register at 140-145 degrees. Transfer chops to plate and let rest for 5 minutes.
Et voila! The glaze made these chops perfectly browned, juicy, and--thanks to the honey--sweet. And the tangy-rich pomegranate seeds married well with the saltiness of the anchovy paste. "Add this to the rotation," Jon said after finishing the last bite. I'm not sure if it was the pork or the pomegranate, but I'll label that a 'win.'