Recipe: Chef Sean O’Connor’s Grilled Alberta Pork Chop
Pork chops are cut of pork that is readily available at any grocery store, butcher shop, or farmer’s market, but, as familiar as we all may be with pork chops, unfortunately, many of us grew up on dry, over-cooked chops. Some people may pass over this classic cut of meat when dining out for fear of a trying to cut through a tough piece of pork, but more and more chefs are bringing a thick-cut pork chop back onto their menu – and the feel and flavour is nothing reminiscent of your childhood.
At the Red Ox Inn in Edmonton, Chef Sean O’Connor is teaching patrons how a pork chop should be served – succulent, full of flavour, and served perfectly pink on the inside. The whole process starts with a brine bath to help those chops stay juicy and flavourful. Marinading your meat for even one hour before cooking can make a huge difference; brining your pork is the easiest way to elevate the flavour of your pork chop. Try Chef O’Connor’s recipe below and turn a simple chop into a gourmet dish served at home.
Grilled Alberta Pork Chop with Smashed Confit Potatoes, Fried Zuchinni and Rosemary Anchovy Vinaigrette
Recipe courtesy of Sean O’Connor, Red Ox Inn
4 Alberta pork chops (2cm thick)
1½ cups hot water (all your fractions should be condensed and are not)
¼ cup kosher salt
½ cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp whole black peppercorns
1 ½ cup ice water
Combine hot water, salt, sugar and black peppercorns until sugar and salt have dissolved. Add ice water. Place pork chops in brine and place in the fridge. Allow to rest for at least an hour and up to 3 hours.
2 lb baby yellow flesh potatoes
3 cups duck fat
3 cups olive oil
Start this process the day before. Wash potatoes, leaving the skin on. Combine with oils, cover with a lid and cook until tender. Cool pot & potatoes overnight in fridge.
6 whole zucchini, medium size
olive oil (move these two ingredients over to line up with whole zucchini)
salt to taste
Thinly slice zucchini and lightly salt. Lay on a baking rack and place in a warm oven to gently dry (use lowest oven setting) – process will take about an hour. When dry, fry zucchini in a pan with hot oil until lightly blistered and charred. Set aside on paper towel and keep warm.
Blanch 2 cups brussel sprouts in water for 2 minutes. Drain. Sauté in 1 Tbsp butter and oil until lightly coloured and set aside.
Anchovy and Rosemary Vinaigrette
3 salt packed anchovies
1 sprig rosemary
1 clove garlic
1 small bunch parsley, stems removed
5 Tbsp olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste
juice from one lemon
Rinse salt from anchovies then remove fillets from each and dry. In a bowl, crush garlic, anchovies, rosemary and parsley with a mortar until a coarse paste forms. Add lemon juice. Drizzle in olive oil to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 300F and fire up grill (preferably charcoal).
Remove potatoes from duck fat by placing the pot back on a stove on low heat. The fat will melt and the potatoes can be removed easier. Set pot aside on paper towel. Remove pork from brine and dry on a clean kitchen towel. Lightly season with salt and pepper.
When grill is hot, sear chops on both sides for 5 min. and let rest. Add a few Tbsps of potato duck fat to a large, heavy bottomed pan.
On cutting board, gently crush your potatoes with the side of your knife until they look like they’ve burst. Add potatoes to the pan and sear over medium heat. When a nice golden crust has formed on them, place in the oven to keep warm.
Check chops for doneness – centre should have a light pink colour. Gently reheat zucchini, sprouts and pork in the oven.
To plate, place your potatoes on the base of your plate. Top with the zucchini, sprouts and pork. Drizzle a liberal amount of dressing over the dish and enjoy.