Sunday, December 8, 2013
By BROOKE DOJNY
If I'm having people to dinner in the summer or fall, I love to forage for the meal at the Blue Hill Farmers' Market or through my CSA (community supported agriculture) -- with maybe a stop at The Cave in Brooklin along the way.
On a recent ingredient-gathering excursion, I scored some lovely pork chops from Old Ackley Farm, new potatoes from Blue Zee Farm and garlic scapes and Tuscan kale from Carding Brook Farm.
I rounded out the meal with a soft creamy goat cheese from Sunset Acres to spread on lightly toasted slices of Tinder Hearth Bakery baguette.
Dessert was Ice Cream Lady coconut ice cream with crisp butterscotch cookies from The Cave.
GRILLED SPICE-BRINED PORK CHOPS WITH TOMATO-STONE FRUIT SALSA
Brining the pork chops -- soaking in a spiced salt solution for a few hours -- helps the meat retain moisture, and also injects flavor. A sweet-tart salsa made with tomatoes and plums or other stone fruit beautifully complements the rich meat. If I have garlic scapes, I brush them with a little oil and grill them along with the chops.
¼ cup kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2½ cups water
1 tablespoon crumbled rosemary
1 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns (see Note)
1 teaspoon mustard seeds, crushed
1 bay leaf, broken in half
4 bone-in pork chops, at least 1-inch thick
1 tablespoon olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
TOMATO-STONE FRUIT SALSA:
2 cups diced tomatoes
1 cup diced plums, apricots, peaches or nectarines
1/2 cup diced sweet onion -- white or red
1 small garlic clove, finely minced
1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon mild vegetable oil such as canola
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
In a large, deep bowl or dish, combine the salt, sugar and water, stirring to dissolve.
Add rosemary, peppercorns, mustard seeds and bay leaf. Add the pork, turn to coat, and refrigerate, covered, for at least 2 hours or for up to 12 hours.
For the salsa, toss the tomatoes and fruit with the onion, garlic, jalapeno, lime zest and juice, and oil.
Season with salt and pepper, mix well, and set aside at cool room temperature for at least 1 hour or refrigerate for several hours.
Return to room temperature before serving.
Build a medium-hot barbecue fire or preheat a gas grill. Remove pork from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Rub or brush with oil and season generously with pepper.
Grill, turning to brown all sides, until almost, but not quite, cooked through in the center, 15 to 20 minutes.
A meat thermometer inserted in the center should register no more than 145 degrees when meat comes off the grill. Let rest for 10 minutes.
Serve topped with the salsa.
Note: Use a mortar and pestle to crush the spices or put in a sealed plastic bag and pound with a mallet.
Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently "Lobster!" (Storey, 2012). She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula and can be contacted via Facebook at: facebook.com/brookedojny