In searching for the right main course for Clay's backyard birthday dinner, we knew we wanted to cook something on the grill and to keep it relatively simple.
We were drawn to this recipe not only because it sounded delicious, but also because it comes from Maria Hines, the chef at Tilth, a fantastic restaurant in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle. We had the pleasure of dining there during our visit to Seattle last summer and were blown away by the food. Situated in an extremely inviting little bungalow, Tilth relies on local and seasonal ingredients but also features some inventive dishes. Our dessert, for instance, was a carrot cake ice cream: cream cheese ice cream with a sweet carrot topping.
Most memorably, we loved Tilth's Mini Duck Burgers, which are served with red onion jam on small brioche buns. Sounds good, right? If you're feeling industrious, you can make them at home, but if you do, you absolutely must let us know how they turned out. No, seriously. You must report back.
Anyhow, the buttermilk pork chops get their juiciness from a 4-hour soak in buttermilk. We actually soaked ours all day, dunking them in buttermilk prior to leaving for work. We opted to grill the chops rather than sear them and finish them in the oven. Unsurprisingly, the pork was delicious: perfectly juicy and seasoned simply, with salt and pepper.
Food & Wine recommended serving the pork with grits and collard greens, which sounded great to us. Rather than make more traditional grits, we thought it would be fun to make tiny herbed grit cakes, and rather than make collard greens, we chose turnip greens since we had those on hand from our CSA.
Combined, these three dishes were amazing, making for a meal that was nice enough for a special occasion but easy enough to be executed on a weeknight.
TOTAL TIME: 20 MIN Plus 4 hr soaking
* 4 1-inch-thick bone-in pork rib chops (about 12 ounces each)
* 1 quart buttermilk
* Salt and freshly ground pepper
* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1. In a large bowl, cover the pork chops with the buttermilk and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 425°. Drain the chops, pat them dry and season with salt and pepper. In a very large ovenproof skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the pork chops and cook over high heat until browned on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Turn the chops, transfer the skillet to the oven and roast for 10 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the chops registers 135°. Let the chops rest for 5 minutes, then serve.
Serve With Grits and braised collard greens.
HERBED GRIT CAKES
Adapted from Essence of Emeril
2 cups water
2 teaspoons butter
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup grits
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Flour for dredging
2-4 tablespoons vegetable oil
Oil a large sheet pan. In a saucepan bring water and butter, seasoned with salt and pepper, to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and whisk in grits. Cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in herbs. Pour grits onto sheet pan, spreading them evenly. Cool and cut into cakes with a 2 1/2- to 3-inch biscuit cutter.
In a large preferably nonstick skillet, heat enough oil to coat bottom of pan over medium-high heat. Dredge both sides of cakes in flour and pan-fry about 2 minutes on each side, until golden. Drain on paper towels and keep warm before serving.
Yield: About 8 cakes
Braised Turnip Greens
From The Bitten Word
1 bunch turnip greens (from 6-8 turnips), cleaned and trimmed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 onion, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in a large sauce pan over medium to high heat. Saute onion until golden and soft, about 5 minutes. Add red wine vinegar and sugar, making sure sugar is dissolved. Add turnip greens, sauteing until just wilted. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and serve.