Perhaps each one of you has your own favorite barbecue sauce, either one you make from scratch or one you buy off the grocer’s shelf. I can’t say that I have a favorite. It may be the one that I am eating at any particular moment. I have tried scores of bottled BBQ sauce, and have made many recipes at home. There are many of both kinds that I like, but no “stand-out favorite” comes to mind.
I try to tailor the sauce for the type of meat, and the rest of the meal, as well as for the preferences of the diners, if I am aware of them. I use a spicy dry rub on ribs and hate to mask that with a heavy sauce. I’m not fond of overly smoky sauces, so I usually pass those by at the market.
I did, however, find a recipe last week for a sauce for pork chops that uses liquid smoke. It looked interesting and I tried it. It is from the September-October, 2007, issue of Cook’s Illustrated, the second recipe from that issue that I have written about. It has a teaspoon of liquid smoke in it but it wasn’t too much for my taste. These chops also had a spice rub, applied after a brining session for the chops. This is one place I part company with Cook’s Illustrated and other cooking sources. I do not brine meat or poultry. I don’t need the extra salt and even after rinsing the brined meat I still taste too much salt. I usually fix the recipes skipping the brining steps or ignore the entire recipe.
This time, I started with Step 2 and once again ignoring the brining instructions. The pork chops turned out great and the sauce was good and easy to prepare. Here’s the recipe:
Skillet-Barbecue Pork Chops
Pork Chops (brining)
1/2 c. table salt
4 bone-in pork rib chops, 3/4 to 1 inch thick (8 to 10 ounces each), trimmed of excess fat, and sides slit at 2 inch intervals
4 t. vegetable oil
1 T. paprika
1 T. brown sugar
2 t. ground coriander
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. ground black pepper
(1/2 t. salt if not bringing chops)
1/2 c. ketchup
3 T. light or mild molasses
2 T. grated onion (I just minced the onion)
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
2 T. Dijon mustard
1 T. cider vinegar
1 T. brown sugar
1 t. liquid smoke
1. FOR THE PORK CHOPS: dissolve salt in 2 quarts of water in a large bowl or container. Submerge chops in the brine, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
2. FOR THE SPICE RUB: Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Measure 2 teaspoons mixture into medium bowl and set aside for sauce. Transfer remaining spice rub to pie plate or large plate.
3. FOR THE SAUCE: Whisk ingredients in bowl with reserved spice mixture; set aside.
4. TO COOK THE CHOPS: Remove chops from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Coat both sides of chops with spice rub, pressing gently so rub adheres. Pat chops to remove excess rub; discard excess rub.
5. Heat 1 T. oil in 12 inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until just smoking. Place chops in skillet in pinwheel formation (nesting chops with tips of ribs pointing toward the edge of the pan. Cook until charred in spots, 5-8 minutes. Flip chops and continue to cook until second side is browned and charred and center of chop registers 130 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 4-8 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and transfer chops to clean plate or baking sheet. Lightly brush top side of each chop with 2 teaspoons sauce.
6. Wipe out pan with paper towels and return to medium heat. Add remaining teaspoon oil and heat until just smoking. Add chops to pan, sauce-side down, and cook without moving until sauce has caramelized and charred in spots, about 1 minute. While cooking, lightly brush top side of each chop with 2 teaspoons sauce. Turn chops and cook until second side is charred and caramelized and center of chops registers 140 dgrees. Meanwhile, add remaining sauce to pan and cook, scraping pan bottom, until thickened to ketchup-like consistency and reduced to 2/3 cup, about 3 minutes. Brush each chop with 1 T. reduced sauce and serve immediately, passing remaining sauce at table.
I hope you try this and, if you do, I hope you enjoy it.
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