Garlic Peppercorn Pork Chops

Story and images provided by Karyl Henry, karylskulinarykrusade.com

When I was a kid, summer was the time for long lazy days. We spent almost every waking minute at the neighborhood pool, which was about a quarter mile from my house. Every day was the same, and I honestly never knew what day it was until I got home and saw what was on TV.

My mom didn’t like turning on the oven during the day, because it was so hot outside. We also didn’t have a grill. That seems kind of crazy now since everyone seems to have one, but looking back I don’t recall my friends having one either. So we usually didn’t eat dinner until after 9PM. My parents still do that regularly in the summer. Whenever I visit them or they come to Stillwater, I insist that we won’t eat that late. And then somehow, we never eat before 8PM. I guess old habits die hard.

One of my first purchases when I bought a house was a grill. I don’t use it as much as I originally thought I would, but I love the versatility the grill provides. My grill sits under the overhang on my patio, so I use it year-round. Of course I use it most often during the summer, but I will occasionally brave the elements to grill in the winter.

My dad is allergic to pork, so I don’t recall my parents ever cooking it. However, I’ve always been a fan of pork chops. The problem I often encountered, though, was they got dry very quickly. It was partially operator error, because I used thin-cut chops and cooked them too long. Dry pork chops are just as bad as dry chicken breast, and there’s not much you can do to revive them. Over time I switched to thick-cut chops, and now they’re perfect nearly every time.

During the winter I usually coat pork chops in a crispy crust and bake them in the oven. The coating helps to retain moisture, and every bite is so tender and juicy. But in the summer I take advantage of the grill. Rather than my usual simple marinade of olive oil and garlic, I wanted to kick it up a few notches so I created Peppercorn Garlic Pork Chops

On my first attempt at Peppercorn Garlic Pork Chops I marinated the pork chops in olive oil, slit little holes in one side, added cloves of raw garlic, and let it marinate for about 4 hours. They were good, but the color was bland and they didn’t have enough garlic punch. I also used whole peppercorns and I had to pull them off before I could eat the pork.

The next time I used roasted garlic. If you haven’t used roasted garlic, you are missing out. The garlic gets golden brown and so sweet, you could almost eat it straight. I smeared the roasted garlic on both sides of the pork, and seasoned them well with coarse sea salt and ground peppercorns. I let the chops sit for about 30 minutes, seared them in a skillet with melted butter, and then cooked them on the grill. If you don’t have a grill, or it’s too cold outside, a grill pan is a perfect substitute.

The color of the chops is gorgeous! The roasted garlic adds so much flavor. And I seared the Peppercorn Garlic Pork Chops in real butter. I use to just use spread or cooking spray, but butter adds an incredible flavor and silky texture you don’t get otherwise.  Plus, butter helps to create the golden brown color. You don’t have to use much, and sometimes it’s just worth it.

The Peppercorn Garlic Pork Chops have so much flavor on their own, but it never hurts to add more. I made a balsamic honey reduction the first time I made the Peppercorn Garlic Pork Chops, to make up for the lack of color. I did it the second time as well, assuming I would need it. Even though I didn’t, I used it for a very flavorful dipping sauce. I also prepared chimichurri as another dipping option.

You can’t have Peppercorn Garlic Pork Chops without vegetables, so I decided to grill a variety of vegetables on the side.

I seasoned them simply with salt and pepper, then drizzled them with oil. I discovered Avocado Oil a few months ago, and love the silky texture it adds to food. FYI, both of the dipping sauces work great with grilled vegetables too.

I always worry when I grill vegetables that they’ll fall through the grates. I did really well, until I thought to myself that I did well…then I lost a lemon slice. But that was the only casualty.

We ate a ton of leftovers growing up, and once I moved out on my own I swore them off. I will eat leftover pizza and Chinese food, but that’s about it. And when I cook, I do just enough for one meal. I ate one of the Peppercorn Garlic Pork Chops immediately. I also literally danced around the kitchen because it was so good! The other one, I ate the next day for lunch. I was concerned it might get dry in the microwave, but I used the reheat setting, and it was just as tender and juicy as the day before.

Peppercorn Garlic Pork Chops will definitely be on my regular meal plan throughout the year. I shared the pictures with my friends, and they can’t wait for me to cook for them. When it’s too cold to grill outside, I’ll use the grill pan instead.

For more great recipes as well as restaurant reviews, be sure to visit Karyl Henry’s website at karylskulinarykrusade.com.

Peppercorn Garlic Pork Chops from karylskulinarykrusade.com

Prep Time 15 minutes

Cook Time 20 minutes

Total Time 35 minutes

Servings 2 people

Ingredients

  • 2 thick-cut, bone-in pork chops (about 3/4″ thick)
  • 8 cloves roasted garlic, smashed
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 Tablespoon avocado oil
  • Assorted vegetables of your choice

CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

  • 1/2 cup fresh, flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh oregano
  • 2 cloves raw garlic, peeled
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tablespoons avocado oil or olive oil

BALSAMIC HONEY DIPPING SAUCE

  • 2 Tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons raw honey

Instructions

Season both sides of pork chops well with salt and pepper. Smear both sides with roasted garlic. Let sit for 30 minutes.

Cut vegetables into pieces large enough that they won’t fall through the grate. Season vegetables well with salt and pepper, and drizzle with avocado oil.

Heat grill to 375°. Spray grill grates with nonstick spray, or wipe grates with avocado oil to prevent sticking.

In skillet over medium heat, melt butter. When butter is completely melted, add pork chops and sear for 2 minutes per side. Remove chops from skillet and put on grill. Let cook on each side for 8 to 10 minutes, until you get the beautiful golden color. Add vegetables to grill. Check every 3 to 4 minutes, to prevent them from burning. Thicker, more dense vegetables will take longer to cook.

BALSAMIC HONEY REDUCTION: In a small saucepan, combine balsamic vinegar and honey. Reduce over low heat until it reaches a thick consistency. If left too long, or over too high heat, it will burn.

CHIMICHURRI: In food processor, combine all chimichurri dry ingredients. Pulse a few times until chopped, and then drizzle in oil until it reaches desired consistency. Don’t over-process, or it will become too thin and runny.

When pork chops are done, remove from grill and set on plate to rest. Allow chops to rest for about 5 minutes, so juices redistribute.