rosemary basil pork chops with grilled peaches + judging doneness of meat

Both Sundays and summers are for grilling in this household. So a Sunday in late July can only mean one thing. Serious father-daughter bonding over a flame.

Now, it’s a puzzle to me why when I suggest chicken pot pie for dinner, my Dad says “sounds great” and walks into the other room and continues watching football. But when I suggest we grill, he’s in the kitchen all hands on deck. In any event, Grill master Dad and I lit up the BBQ for a Sunday supper.

Charcoal grill.

Dinner is served.

Most of this recipe is going to focus on the meat. Now that I have all the men’s attention…

If you’ve cooked at all with meat, you’ll know that different cuts of meat have different cooking times, depending on fat content, type of muscle it is, bone in or out, weight of cut, etc. Things can get tricky and very specific very fast, so I won’t belabor the topic too much. But no matter how or what kind of meat you cook, probably the most important thing is knowing when it’s done. Overcooked meat can become tough while undercooked meat well…food poisoning anyone?

Judging meat doneness can be tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s when the knives usually start coming out and then our beautiful steaks cut chopped to pieces, peaking inside for any trace of pink. Thankfully, there is a better option. Most professional cooks “feel” their meat with their finger and eye to evaluate the degree of doneness. However, learning how to “feel” when your meat is done is really not that complicated and is something everyone can easily learn how to do with a little practice.

Bleu meat: stage when cooked at surface, warmed but relatively uncooked on the inside. Feels relatively unchanged from it’s raw stage. It should feel like the muscle between your thumb and forefinger when relaxed.

Rare meat: stage when proteins are starting to solidify making the meat more resilient when poked. Feels like thumb-forefinger muscle when you stretch these two fingers apart.

Medium-done meat: stage when proteins have started to denature (change chemical properties) and coagulate (in this case, become firm). You should see red juice leaving the surface of the meat. It will be pale pink on the inside. Feels like the thumb-forefinger muscle when pressing your thumb and forefinger together. 

Well-done meat: stage when nearly all proteins have completely denatured and meat has become stiff. Both juice and interior are dull tan or grey. Should feel like the muscle just to the inside of the thumb when pressing the thumb and forefinger together.
Sources: Exploratorium – Science of Cooking and On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee

Here’s the recipe.

Pork chops:
3 pork chops ~1.5 pounds
For the marinade combine:
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup olive oil
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 leaves fresh basil
3 cloves fresh minced garlic
2 T apple cider vinegar
2 T honey
salt, pepper and paprika to taste
Pour marinade into zip lock bag with pork chops and marinate for 4-24 hours.
Grill on low-medium heat until you “feel” it’s done. Good thing you now know what that means!

Grilled peaches:
Cut peaches in half and remove pits. Lightly coat with olive oil. Grill for about 5 min, flipping half way through. Serve with plain Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey alongside your pork chops.

Grill master Dad approved.



3 responses

  1. Pingback: grilled tri-tip with chimichurri sauce + marinading meat | mt

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