James Beard Award-winning Chef Andrew Carmellini talked about opening his first restaurant in Nashville and made Grilled Cider-Glazed Pork Chops. On Wednesday, October 6, acclaimed chef Andrew Carmellini will open The Dutch, the first of his two neighborhood restaurants set in the new W Nashville and his first venture in Music City. For more information about The Dutch, including hours and location, visit www.thedutchnashville.com and follow @thedutchnashville on social media.
Grilled Pork Chop
Cider-glazed pork is really a Northeastern dish, but when I was down in Memphis, doing a barbeque tour, I got the idea of pumping up the flavor by adding a spice rub to the cider. The mix is something else: the meat is tender and flavorful, with a rich mouthfeel; the glaze gives it sweetness and a little tang; and the rub brings the bite and the grit. I use a rack of pork here because the pork chops stay moist—and bringing a huge rack of pork to the table is a pretty great way to entertain. But if you have individual chops and you just want to grill them and saute them, that works too--just add the glaze and the spices before you bring the meat to the table. The brine will make the pork much more tender, but if you really don’t have time (and all of your dinner guests have strong teeth), you can skip this step.
For the brine (best made the day before):
6 cups water
2 ½ cups kosher salt
1 cup sugar
For the pork:
1 5-bone rack of pork (4 to 5 pounds)
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon pepper
3 cups apple cider
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
For the spice rub:
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon chili powder
To make the brine:
1. Pour 6 cups of water into a medium-sized saucepan, and stir in the salt and sugar.
2. Bring the mixture to a boil.
3. Put the brine in the refrigerator to cool. Use it only when it’s completely cooled down. (It
will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.)
To make the pork:
1. Cover the pork with the brine in a large container and let it marinate in the fridge for 45
2. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
3. Remove the pork from the brine, rinse off the salt to get rid of the excess, and pat the meat
dry with a paper towel.
4. Season the pork with the salt and pepper, being sure to cover all sides of the meat.
5. Place the meat on a rack in a roasting pan, put it on the middle oven rack, and roast until the
meat reaches an internal temperature of at least 135°F (about 50 to 60 minutes, depending
on your oven). When you poke the meat hard with a finger, it should bounce back, like a little
trampoline; if your finger sinks in, it isn’t done yet. I don’t like my pork too well done. If you
prefer it that way, keep cooking it—but please don’t kill it. (If the meat has no bounce and no
give at all, it’s overdone.)
6. While the meat is in the oven, pour the cider into a medium-sized saucepan and let it reduce
over medium-high heat for about 45 minutes, until you’ve got a loose, dark golden-brown
7. Pull the pan off the heat and stir in the apple cider vinegar.
8. Pour the glaze out of the pot into a small bowl and put it in the fridge to cool down. As it
cools, the syrup will thicken.
To make the spice rub:
1. Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl, and mix well.
To finish the dish:
1. Pull the pork out of the oven, but leave the oven on at 425°F.
2. Take the glaze out of the fridge. It should be sweet-tangy, and will probably have formed a
bouncy “shell” on top. Paint the pork all over with about half the glaze, using a pastry brush
(you can do this by pouring and spreading with your hands, but it’s pretty messy).
3. Put the pork back in the oven and roast it for 2 more minutes so the glaze can set. Then take
it out and let it rest for 15 minutes.
4. Paint the pork all over with the rest of the glaze.
5. Sprinkle the spice rub all over all sides of the pork.
6. Cut the rack into chops by cutting right down the middle between each set of bones.
7. Arrange the meat on a platter and serve it immediately.
Chef ’s Tip:
If there’s any leftover glaze and spice mix, combine them and pour in some of the drippings
from the pork. Mix it all together, and then spoon it over the chops.