Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Smoked Pork Chops with Cherry Balsamic Sauce

The apple smoked pork chops are ready
Sometimes our family has a "Chopped" dinner. You know the show "Chopped" where the contestants have to make an appetizer, entree' or dessert from the ingredients in the mystery baskets? Well, my wife and kids pick four ingredients at the grocery store without telling me what they are in advance, bring them home and my challenge is to dinner must be made from these four ingredients. It's fun challenge and since everyone must actually eat whatever I cook, stuff  the normally befuddle the Chopped contestants like sea urchin roe or lamb brains never show up in the mystery basket.

One evening, the mystery ingredients were cherries, ham, okra, and pistachios. I figured a cherrird would taste good on the ham, so I whipped up a cherry sauce. As we ate dinner, I'm thinking, this sauce would taste even better on some smoked pork chops.

So the Cherry Balsamic Sauce recipe  below is based on that summer evening of improvising a sauce from a bag of fresh cherries on Chopped night. Use fresh cherries in season if you can get them, but frozen cherries work too. Feel free to play around a bit with the levels of sweetness, spiciness, and saltiness of the sauce and tweak it to your liking.

For smoking the pork chops, I use thicker chops and put them edge down on the grill, maximizing the surface area to capture the smoke flavors. Apple wood works for me here, but you could use also cherry, pecan or another lighter fruity wood.  In my opinion hickory or mesquite smoke would be a little too strong. Smoking the chops indirectly at 300-350 degrees on my Weber gas grill for roughly 45 minutes, I get a pretty juicy pork chop.

I'm a beer guy, but if you ask my, smoked pork chops with cherry balsamic sauce spooned on top scream out for a good glass of Pinot.  Enjoy!

Cherry Balsamic Sauce

1 cup pitted fresh cherries ( 1 1/4 cup frozen cherries)
1 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper

Bring the ingredients to a simmer on a stove top reducing it to a syrup. Spoon over four 1/2 pound pork chops smoked with apple, cherry, or pecan wood at 300-500 degrees for approximately 45 minutes and serve.

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