Most of the time, cooking is a relaxing activity for me. I pop into the kitchen, recipe in hand and become the musician playing someone else’s art. The recipe author is showing me the wonderful thing they created and I am enjoying the act of recreation. As long as I don’t have to impress anyone and I have plenty of time to do what I need to do, it is fun and stress free. Sometimes, it is almost meditative for me.
A few weeks ago, I bought some pork sirloin chops and wanted to try something new. I had a cookbook that had been forgotten about. It is “Williams-Sonoma: Essentials of Grilling”. Within this book is a page of basic marinades for different kinds of meat. The basic pork marinade looked like a good thing to try on my chops so I followed the recipe exactly except for my usual preference of using olive oil for the generic ingredient called vegetable oil. The chops marinated for the 3 hours maximum called for in the recipe for pork chops and after the requisite time on the BBQ they were pretty yummy but not as flavorful as I expected.
On Monday, we decided to do another round of these sirloin pork chops. I was putting together the marinade and realized that we had over three pounds of meat and the recipe was intended for between one and one and a half pounds of meat. Could this be why I didn’t think the marinade was as flavorful on the meat as it could have been? Did I shortchange the amount of marinade I needed? I doubled the recipe and then proceeded to tweak it. The recipe didn’t have garlic and boy did it need it so, in went garlic. The recipe called for red pepper flakes but I had some gorgeous fresh jalapenos that needed to be used up, what would happen if I used fresh chilies? Well who cares, sounds good to me. The marinade still needs something, what is it? What does it need? Scanning the spice rack… aha! Smoked paprika! The marinade is all set, in plops the meat about three hours before BBQ time. Perfect!
I think I mentioned in the opening post of this blog that I am trying to become healthy and lose weight. I have been going to the gym like a mad woman. At first, I was doing just cardio for about a half hour each trip to the gym, but lately my boyfriend has been helping me in the weight room. On Monday, I did something dumb. I drank a cup of coffee in the morning (if you knew me, you would know I am not a coffee drinker). Coffee is a diuretic. I also proceeded to forget to drink any other liquid all day. I hopped on a cardio machine at the gym and did a full half hour, drinking a bit of water but not nearly enough. Once I went downstairs to lift weights, I was weak and could barely lift my arms without the weights. I wasn’t sure what was wrong with me. Duh!
What does this have to do with anything? I got home and felt so weak I could barely move. My boyfriend convinced me that we were both too tired to cook (he would have to man the grill) and that it would be better to pick up take out food from our local health food joint. I argued and argued because of one problem with the pork marinade. It has a lot of apple cider vinegar in it. By doubling the recipe, I had used 2 full cups of apple cider vinegar to one cup of apple juice! I had visions of pork ceviche rolling around in my head. I felt so weak and messed up, that I stopped stressing and relented to buying food instead of making it.
The next day, I looked at the pork and it didn’t look so bad. I left it until dinnertime. The vinegar was cooking the edges of the meat a little bit but it didn’t seem so bad. Still, I wasn’t sure about the tweaks I made to the recipe and I was sure marinating the meat for 24 hours would cause a melt down of some sort. We fired up the BBQ in the evening and proceeded to cook the meat. It seemed very vinegary smelling so we both were nervous and I felt stressed.
When the meat was cooked, we served it with some Greek potatoes and steamed veggies. The meat was delicious. This time you could taste the marinade and it had a wonderful smoky tangy flavor. Served up with a 2001 Sunstone Syrah, it was wonderful.
BBQ Pork Sirloin Chops
Basic marinade adapted from Williams-Sonoma: Essentials of Grilling (enough marinade for three pounds of pork)
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup apple juice
6 tbsp brown sugar
1 large yellow onion – diced
4 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp hot sauce (I used cholula)
1 large jalapeno chili, seeded and diced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
4 cloves garlic, minced
Combine all ingredients in a 9”x13” pan. Add sirloin chops and marinate for at least 3 hours up to 24 hours. Start your BBQ. When the coals are covered with white ash, add the chops to the grill. Cook turning once for about a half hour or until a meat thermometer poked into the thickest part of the chop registers between 145-150 degrees F. Remove the chops to a platter and allow to rest for at least five minutes before serving.
Post blog writing note: D’oh. After reading the recipe so that I could write it down for you, I realized that I missed the step in the recipe that calls for cooking the first three ingredients of the marinade over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved then adding the other ingredients. They don’t say to cool the marinade they say to add the pork at this point. Well, mystery solved. That’s why round one was a little disappointing. I guess my version of the marinade on round two is completely different than what the book intended, but it sure did turn out tasty anyway.