Friday, July 24, 2009

Classic Combinations

The South, Fall, Football, Pork, Iced Tea and Bourbon

Face it sports fans, you are currently in the doldrums of sports purgatory. Baseball still has about 87,900 games left before the playoffs even start, training camp hasn't quite begun, and college athletes are still taking summer school. Christ, Brett Favre is still retired from retiring. But then into your in-box comes an email entitled "Fantasy Draft." And it starts.

Before you know it you are dreaming of a crisp, cool fall weekend with a full slate of SEC games on a Saturday, followed by 15 hours of NFL on a Sunday, and the agony of being a Saints fan on Monday. See you later salads and rose colored wines; this is the time for plump sausages and drinking bourbon out of a flask on a cold night in a parking lot. Betting on 18 year old rookie cornerbacks and parlaying the Colts at home with the Chargers on the road will replace staring at your Entergy bill and staying indoors. Yes, dear readers, fall is coming.

I had a thick, double cut pork chop in the fridge. Pork, especially barbecue, makes me think of sitting on a picnic table, gnawing on ribs, and chugging iced tea. Barbecuing ribs always reminds me of football season. When football season comes around, that means its time to drink bourbon again. Drinking bourbon while watching football makes me want Thanksgiving to be here. Thanksgiving smells like apples, sweet potatoes, hearty herbs, and green beans. And thus was born sweet tea brined double-cut pork chop with an apple-bourbon glaze, green beans with creole tomatoes, and rosemary roasted sweet potatoes.

Tea has loads of natural tannins so I figured it would be a good tenderizer. Add some salt and honey, and a brine was formed. So 3 cups of water, 1/4 cup of salt, 1 good amount of honey, some peppercorns, and bay leaf went into a pot. That boiled. Turned off the heat and added one Lipton Tea Bag. Let mixture steep for about 5 minutes, then remove bag and let cool. I made the brine the night before, the following morning I added the pork along with a few slices of orange, but lemon would work.

Let pork sit in brine for about 10 hours. Remove, rinse, and salt and pepper both sides. Heat grill. While grill is heating up, make the glaze by combining some Maker's Mark and apple jelly. Heat glaze, stir, and allow to reduce until thick. Cook pork on grill and baste with glaze.
Blanch green beans and tomatoes and let dry. Cook some shallots with olive oil and salt and pepper. Add green beans to shallot mix and toss in a little red wine vinegar. Cube sweet potatoes, toss with salt, pepper, rosemary, and olive oil and roast at 375 degrees until crispy. Allow pork to rest, then plate.
The tea flavoring came through with a slight, but noticeable twang. Tender and juicy, I could almost imagine the pork thanking me for cooking it this way. Because global warming seems to have decided to take the summer off, this dish was not overly oppressive in July. But it would kick pork butt in October. Eating pork prepared this way got me ready for football season. I hope it does the same for you.

Blog is going to be sporadically on vacation for the next two weeks. Peter needs a chance to get his head right and I got some vacation time to use. Besides, its too damn hot to be reading about food. Maybe a post here and there, but we will resume your regularly scheduled broadcast on August 10.

Catch you on the flip side, dear readers. Always remember, if it was not for you, many meals would go uneaten. Take it easy.


Anonymous said...

Holy crap, that sounds almost as good as Notre Dame and the points against USC!

Thanks for scratching that itch on my brain!


bloggle said...

I'll bet that preparation would be outstanding with a whole loin slow smoked on a Big Green Egg.

I think I have some homework to do.

Anonymous said...

Hey bloggle, here's a thought, take that whole loin and have the butcher trim it into a crown roast so it will fit easily into your egg... more cut surfaces will benefit the brining and yield a slightly more dramatic presentation!

Now, I'm hungry!


Rene said...

My initial direction was to smoke the pork chop over some pecan wood, but I worried the tannins from the smoke and tea would be a little harsh on something as small as a pork chop.

I wonder if this would work with ribs?

Les Miles said...

Nice article, guys. Here is a little video to get you even more amped for the football season.

Alex del Castillo said...

You had me at bourbon.

Faine said...

So sweet tea flavored pork chops? Christ, that's an excellent idea. I suspect this would work great with ribs as well.

There's a recipe in my Gourmet cookbook for pork shoulder cooked in a large quantity of Red Zinger hibiscus tea but I haven't had the cojones to try it...