Unlike seasoned restaurant chefs who have joined me on “Stirring the Pot,” Katie Lee, who made her culinary name on television and in cookbooks (and a brief marquee marriage to Billy Joel) is basically a home cook. She seeks ease, efficiency and also great tasting food. Her grill-ready recipe for pork chops slathered with a mixture of Chinese ingredients is a case in point. It’s hardly authentic Chinese but takes advantage of the particular flavors of that cuisine with ingredients that have become pantry staples in many kitchens. Pork chops on the grill welcome the treatment. When it comes to fresh pork, it pays to seek out cuts from heritage breeds like Berkshire or Kurobuta. This is pork from small producers, not industrial factories. It is more expensive than run-of-the-mill supermarket or butcher counter pork and is rarely sold on the East End. You have to order it for delivery from an online source like Snake River Farms, Heritage Foods and D’Artagnan. But you will be rewarded with meat that has rich flavor and succulence and is best when cooked just medium (it’s safe). And if you do not opt for heritage pork I’d suggest brining your chops overnight in the refrigerator in a rub of coarse salt and a little brown sugar. Rinse and dry them before cooking. As for the cooking times given, with grills it’s hard to be precise since they all deliver heat differently. You want your chops to finish at 140 degrees when tested with an instant-read thermometer.
Hoisin Ginger Pork Chops
4 center-cut or rib bone-in pork chops, 1 1/2 inches thick, preferably heritage pork
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons grated peeled ginger
3 cloves garlic, grated
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
Cilantro sprigs for garnish
Preheat a grill to medium. Generously season each side of the pork chops with salt and pepper. In a bowl, combine the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and sesame oil. Brush one side of each chop with some of this mixture.
Place the pork chops on the grill, seasoned side down, and cover the grill. Cook for 4 minutes. Brush chops with more of the hoisin mixture and flip the chops. Cover the grill and cook for 4 minutes more. Flip and brush again then cover and cook for 2 minutes. Flip and baste. Check doneness. The chops might be ready, with pinkness in the middle for medium. If needed, baste again and cover and cook for 2 minutes longer.
Remove the chops from the grill to a platter, tent with foil, and let stand for 5 minutes. Serve whole or slice before serving. Garnish with fresh cilantro.
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