Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday Night Dinner for 2 : Brined and Grilled Pork Chops and Corn-Basil Pancakes

Tonight's dinner for two is a fairly quick and easy one. Pork Chops and Corn-Basil Cakes. No need for a starch because the pancakes are a two for one deal - veggies and starch in one shot. You could serve this with a salad too if you were so inclined, but I think you'll find that the meal is filling enough with out it.

Why brine the pork chops you ask? It seems a bit fussy when you could just slap them on the grill, or in the frying pan you say? This is true - I can't dispute the fact that you could have perfectly satisfactory pork chops without brining them. However, try brining once (it only takes 15 minutes) and you'll never go back! The end result is so succlent and juicy, that the extra 15 minutes seems like a very small price to pay and really, who couldn't use those 15 minutes to relax and have a libation to unwind from a long Monday?

Easy Brined and Grilled Pork Chops
2 Pork Chops, on the bone and thick is better, but whatever you have will be fine
1 c. Boiling Water
4 c. Cold Water
1/2 c.Salt
1/2 c. Sugar
1 tsp. Chili Flakes
S&P to taste
BBQ Sauce of your choice

1. Boil the 1 c. of water and pour in to a large bowl. Mix in, until dissolved, salt and sugar. Add the rest of the brine ingredients (cold water and chili flakes) in a large bowl. Place your meat in the bowl, and wait 15 minutes. If you have time, you can brine up to 24 hours. If you're going to brine your meat longer than 15 minutes be sure to put it in the fridge.  You can also brine other cuts of pork (like tenderloin), and chicken and turkey as well. Adjust the spices as you like.

Pork in a bath. Betcha never thought you'd see that!
2. Heat your grill or a frying pan to medium high. If you're using a frying pan, add a little oil to the pan.

3. Remove your chops from the brine, and pat dry with a paper towel. Season your meat with s&p and place on the grill.

4. Cook to an internal temperature of 150F, turning once, and basting with your favorite BBQ sauce.

Handy grill work by my man Jon.
5. Remove from the grill or pan, cover with tinfoil and let rest for 5-10 minutes. Be patient - I know you're hungry! But honestly, meat that has been rested is far better than meat straight from the grill. Resting allows the juices to redistribute making for a yummy piece of meat.

At our house, grilling is done by men, so while my man grills the chops, I make up the pancakes.  The timing for this duo is just about perfect, you'll finish up the last of the pancakes while the meat is resting.

My very enthusiastic Sous Chef, Tucky, hard at work!

Corn and Basil Pancakes
*adapted from Eating Well's recipe, orignal available here.

3/4 c. flour
1/2 c. milk
2 eggs
2 tbsp.oil, divided
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 c. fresh or frozen corn (I used frozen)
6-8 leaves chopped fresh basil, or 1 tsp. dried basil

1. Make the pankcake batter. Start off by whisking together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt and pepper). When you've done this, add in the wet ingredients (eggs, 1 tbsp. oil, and milk) and whisk until smooth. The batter should be the consistency of thick pancake batter. Add in the corn and basil and stir until coated.

The batter will thin out a bit when you add the corn.

2. Heat a large nonstick frying pan over medium. Add oil, or give it a spray with PAM if you have it. You could also use a cast iron pan if you wanted, but you'll need to double the oil, unless your pan is well seasoned.

Obviously I opted for the extra oil.

3. As for cooking, if you've made pancakes before which I suspect you have, you shouldn't have any problems with these. Drop a large spoonful into the pan. Let cook for about 2 minutes. Turn them, and let them cook about 3 more minutes. If you flip them too soon, they will crumble, believe me. You may need to adjust the heat so that they don't burn, depending on your stove and the pan you're using.

Mmmmmmm! Dinner!
Note: These are pretty good with a dollop of goats cheese on top!

A yummy Summer dinner for two, in about 45 minutes. If there are leftover pancakes for the love of God don't heat them up in the microwave - the result is not good! Ask Jon. Instead, throw them back in the frying pan for a few minutes to heat them through.

Happy Eating!

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