Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Plastic Bag Pork Chops

Grilled marinaded pork chop with stuffed potato and creamed spinach

So what the heck is a plastic bag pork chop?

We'll get to that in a minute.

So this week, a relative stopped by for a visit and brought us a big styrofoam cooler. Apparently, her ex is an avid fan of Omaha Steaks- he, for whatever reason, had a bunch of extra meat in his last order that he couldn't use, so naturally, he dropped it off with his ex (my wife's aunt), who kept a few items that she wanted, and brought the remainder to us. So I ended up with a few nice boneless pork chops, filet mignon wrapped in bacon, some stuffed baked potatoes, and a box of gourmet hamburgers. I didn't have a lot of defrost time yesterday, so I didn't think the filets would thaw in time for dinner, so I went with my old stand-by Pork!

By the time the chops thawed, I had about an hour to marinade them before they needed to be on the grill. But, especially with pork- about 20-30 minutes is usually enough for a quick marinade.

So again, why "Plastic Bag Pork Chops?"

Simple- If you marinade in a bowl or a container, you usually end up with your meat swimming in a lot of marinade- and most of the marinade goes to waste. I prefer to make a smaller amount of marinade, then dump the meat and marinade in a plastic freezer bag, give it a toss, and let it sit. That way, I don't have to make a huge amount of marinade, or water it down. If there's enough liquid to coat the meat with a little extra, you're good.

I went with a fairly simple marinade- and since it was going to be a quick soak, I made it a little more acidic than usual.

The marinade-
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste (usually about 1/2 tsp - 1tsp each)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 small onion (chopped fine)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1/4 cup water (if needed)
enough plastic storage bags to hold your chops with room to give them a good shake.

Mix all ingredients in a bowl (or plastic bag!) except the water. Add in the water if it looks like you need more liquid to coat your meat (you'll probably need at least some of it)- taste and adjust seasoning.

The marinade ready to be bagged

Take your pork chops and put them in the plastic bag(s) and pour in the marinade. Seal the bag(s) and toss gently to distribute the liquid and onion bits. Set bag aside in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes (minimum) - longer is better- if you can set it up the night before, go for it.

Boneless Pork Chops marinading in a plastic bag.

Once the marinade has had some time to do it's work, grill or broil the chops until done. I like mine grilled, and I wanted as much of a sear as I could get, so I used the flat side of my indoor grill. It should take a few minutes per side- I won't give specific cooking times since it will vary wildly depending on how thick your chops are. I go the the "poke test" where if the meat feels sufficiently firm, it's ready. I also watch the sides of the meat- when half of the chop has turned from pink to white, it's ready to be flipped over.

Pork chops sizzling on the grill

You'll probably lose most of the onion bits, but as long as they've been in the marinade they will have already added their flavor to the mix. The onion bits that do manage to cling to the meat will probably be nicely carmelized and somewhat pressed into the meat. The chop should be fully cooked, but still juicy with a nice thin layer of sear on the outside. I served mine with the stuffed potatoes from Omaha Steaks, and a little creamed spinach. My girls are picky about meat, so they had some mac and cheese with theirs. My son, however, devoured about half a pork chop (cut up into tiny pieces), some spinach, and anything else he could steal off my plate despite not even being old enough to have all his teeth yet.

While my daughters are finicky, my son is a good indicator of how well the food came out (he's obviously the most Italian of my kids since he goes crazy for pasta dishes). I thin he's on his way top being a junior foodie- he skipped from jarred/pureed baby food right to solids as soon as his front teeth came in and hasn't looked back. These pork chops definitely received his stamp of approval.

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