A perk of living in the South is the year-round grilling weather. Once springtime hits, you know dinner is coming from the grill. While a fair share of burgers, brats, and chicken breasts are sure to grace these fiery grates, I'm putting my money on pork chops to be the hit of the season.
Grilling delivers flavor-packed foods quickly to the dinner table, but it always takes a little time to get the heat going. Use that time to your advantage, stirring together a savory brine that seasons the chops and keeps them juicy. Then cook the chops just long enough to develop deep-brown grill marks, and brush 'em with a sweet and tangy mustard glaze.
I won't blame you if you eat the slices straight from the cutting board.
Banish Dry Pork Chops Forever
Brining is not something we just do once a year for our Thanksgiving turkeys. It is a way to make meat juicier and more flavorful all year long, especially over the high heat of the grill. While the grill heats, there's a good 20 or 30 minutes of lag time before you can start cooking, so use that to your advantage and mix up a simple brine.
At its essence, a brine is salt and water. While you can stop there for these pork chops, I add bay, garlic, and brown sugar as well. Heat this mixture until the salt and sugar dissolve, then cool it quickly with ice before adding the chops.
Adding ice is key when the clock is ticking. You don't want to boil the meat in the hot liquid, nor do you want to wait for the brine to cool on its own. Twelve ounces of ice cubes — a more precise measure than calling for cups since everyone's ice cubes are shaped differently! — will do it.
With just 15 minutes in the brine, the pork chops soak up the seasonings before hitting the grill.
Learn more: 3 Scientific Reasons to Brine Your Meat
Finish the chops with a tangy glaze made from pantry staples: a few tablespoons of brown sugar, and a dollop of Dijon thinned with a touch of apple cider vinegar or bourbon. Brushing the glaze on only one side after flipping keeps the glaze from burning. Serve it sliced over salad or with grilled corn and fresh green beans.
Get Grilling with These Recipes
Easy Grilled Pork Chops with Sweet & Tangy Mustard Glaze
- For the glaze:
packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons
apple cider vinegar or bourbon
- For the brine:
packed light brown sugar
cloves garlic, smashed
1 1/2 cups
ice cubes (12 ounces)
boneless pork chops (1/2- to 1-inch thick)
- For grilling:
Vegetable oil or high-heat cooking spray, for the grill grates
Make the glaze: Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine; set aside.
Brine the pork: Place the water, brown sugar, bay leaves, and garlic in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cover and bring to a boil. Uncover and stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Pour into a large bowl. Add the ice cubes to cool the brine until it is just slightly warm to the touch; this should take about 5 minutes. Once cooled, submerge the pork chops in the brine and set aside at room temperature for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the grill.
If using a gas grill, heat the grill to high. For a charcoal grill, prepare the grill for direct heat. Once the grill grates are hot, scrape any debris from the grates and oil them well.
Remove the pork chops from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Place the pork on the grill and cover. Do not move the chops until they have grill marks and have cooked enough to lift easily, about 3 minutes. If the meat sticks to the grill, continue to cook for another minute until it releases easily.
Flip the pork chops and brush with the glaze 2 to 3 times as the chops finish cooking. The pork chops are done when they registers 145°F on an instant-read thermometer, 6 to 8 minutes on the second side.
Transfer the pork to a clean cutting board or plates. Rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Storage: Refrigerate leftover pork chops in an airtight container for up to 4 days.