Dining Tip: Pork Chops with Creamy Cheddar Grits

Austin chef Rebecca Meeker serves a red-blooded Texan cut with grits; she suggests pairing it with a meaty Languedoc red
Dining Tip: Pork Chops with Creamy Cheddar Grits
These pork chops are impressive enough for a dinner party but also make for a great weeknight treat. (Andrew Purcell)
Mar 20, 2017

Note: This recipe originally appeared in the April 30, 2017, issue of Wine Spectator, "Italy's Allegrini Family."

Pork Chops with Cheddar Grits and Pan Sauce

Recipe courtesy of chef Rebecca Meeker

• 1/2 cup kosher salt, plus more for cooking
• 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
• 1 bay leaf
• 5 sprigs plus 4 teaspoons chopped thyme
• 4  10-ounce bone-in pork chops
• 1 cup milk
• 1 cup white grits
• 1 cup grated white Cheddar cheese
• 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
• 2 medium whole spring onions (bulb with green top attached)
• 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to taste
• 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
• 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
• 1 teaspoon chopped shallots
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 6 teaspoons honey (preferably Texas wildflower)
• 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
• 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard

1. In a large pot, bring 8 cups water, 1/2 cup salt, brown sugar, bay leaf and thyme sprigs to a boil. Pour brine into a large nonreactive container, stir in 4 cups ice and bring to room temperature. Add the pork chops and refrigerate for 4 hours.

2. Place the milk, 2 cups water and 1 tablespoon salt in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Gradually add the grits, whisking constantly, until well-incorporated. Turn heat to low and whisk about once every 5 minutes. Cook until creamy, about 1 hour. Remove from heat and stir in the cheeses to taste (you may have extra). Cover and set aside.

3. Trim the inedible bottoms from the onions, leaving enough so they still hold together. Halve the onions lengthwise. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Heat a grill or grill pan over high. Grill onions cut-side down until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove and wrap in foil to keep warm.

4. Preheat oven to 400° F. Transfer chops to a towel and pat dry; discard brine. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high. Season chops with salt and pepper. Add 2 chops to the skillet and sear until golden-brown, 3 minutes per side. Transfer skillet to oven and cook until an instant-read thermometer registers 145° F, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven, place chops on a meat rack or carving board, and cover tightly with foil. Repeat with remaining 2 chops, adjusting oil as needed for 2 tablespoons fat. Cover with foil when done.

5. Reheat grits, uncovered, on low. Wipe out the skillet used to cook the chops, add 1 tablespoon butter and melt over medium heat. Add garlic and shallots. Cook for 1 minute. Add chopped thyme, honey, chicken stock and mustard. Bring to a boil and reduce by half, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat and whisk in remaining 1 tablespoon butter.

6. Cut each chop into 5 slices off the bone. Spoon some grits onto each serving plate. Top with a pork chop. Place a spring onion half next to each chop, and pour the sauce over the chop and around the grits. Serves 4.

Cooking

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