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Great grilling: Soy Basted Pork Chops an easy summer meal

Pork is marinaded in soy sauce, rice vinegar and brown sugar.Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor1 / 2
Pork is marinaded in soy sauce, rice vinegar and brown sugar.Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor2 / 2

During the summer, we use our grill nearly every night for everything from meat, to vegetables, and even fruit. On weeknights, we're usually looking for a dish that is quick and easy to make, and if it can be prepared in advance, even better.

Bon Appetit, the culinary magazine, excels at featuring simple dishes that meet these criteria, and their Soy Basted Pork Chops have become an instant favorite in our family this summer.

I love pork, but don't usually consider myself a fan of pork chops, especially not the thin-cut variety which this recipe features. Thin-cut pork chops cook quickly and can be easy to overcook, leaving them dry and lacking in flavor.

However, the key to preventing this disappointment and achieving a flavorful result is found in this recipe, with its simple marinade consisting of just three ingredients: soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and brown sugar. These ingredients are mixed together until combined, and then the pork chops are placed in a plastic bag with half of the marinade, while the remaining half is reserved for basting the chops as they grill.

This two-step process is the key to this easy recipe — the initial marinating tenderizes the chops and infuses them with flavor, and the basting keeps them supple and juicy as they grill. The recipe recommends letting the chops marinate for at least 10 minutes before grilling, but we've had the best results when we marinate them overnight. And, because they're thin, the chops can go straight from the fridge to the grill.

When grilling, it's important to make sure that your grill is clean, hot and lubricated with oil before each use (in that order), and always use a meat thermometer to ensure that the meat is thoroughly cooked.

For pork chops, the National Pork Board recommends an internal temperature between 145 and 160 degrees. Thin-cut pork chops cook fast on the grill and will only take about six to eight minutes until fully cooked.

We recently received an email from a reader who was having difficulty finding rice wine vinegar, which may also be called rice vinegar. Rice wine vinegar is a staple ingredient in Asian cuisine and is regularly stocked at our local grocery stores (often in the Asian food aisle). If you don't have rice wine vinegar, cider vinegar may be used in its place.

Bon Appetit's recipe recommends serving the grilled pork chops with a combination of tender, fresh herbs, like mint and cilantro, and basil, thyme, marjoram or parsley may also be added for a burst of green goodness. Sliced jalapenos are also suggested, but when they're served raw they can often be too hot for my guys, so to temper their heat I marinate them overnight in fresh lime juice and olive oil.

These Soy Basted Pork Chops are the perfect Monday night meal, as you can get all of the prep done on Sunday and simply heat up the grill when you're ready to eat. Bon appetit, indeed!

(By the way, these pork chops would be great with Asian Noodle Slaw, featured on June 21, 2017.)

Soy Basted Pork Chops

Serves 4

Ingredients:

¼ cup soy sauce

¼ cup unseasoned rice (wine) vinegar

2 tablespoons brown sugar, light or dark

4 half-inch thick bone-in pork blade or rib chops

Vegetable oil (for grill)

Kosher salt

For serving:

A variety of three or more fresh herbs, roughly chopped - mint, cilantro, parsley, basil, thyme, marjoram

1 medium jalapeno, thinly sliced

Directions:

To temper their heat, marinate the jalapeno slices in a small bowl with the juice of one lime and 2 tablespoons of olive oil, then refrigerate overnight or for up to 3 days.

In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, rice vinegar and brown sugar until combined and sugar is dissolved.

Use a fork to prick the pork chops all over, and place in a large plastic zipper bag. Pour in half of the marinade, seal bag, and turn to evenly coat pork chops. Cover and refrigerate remaining marinade until ready to grill. Let pork chops marinate for at least ten minutes, or overnight for best results.

Make sure your grill is clean, hot and lubricated with vegetable or olive oil before using. Remove pork chops from marinade; discard marinade.

Season the chops lightly with salt and grill on one side until grill marks are achieved, about 2 to 3 minutes, using a brush or spoon to baste the tops with the remaining marinade at least twice before turning. Flip chops over and grill on other side, basting often, until an internal temperature between 145 to 160 degrees is achieved.

Remove chops from grill and arrange on a platter. Sprinkle fresh herbs generously over meat and serve with sliced jalapenos on the side.

Lightly adapted from a bonappetit.com recipe

"Home With the Lost Italian" is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello's in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their 12-year-old son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello//thelostitalian.areavoices.com.

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