Ah... the lovely trinity! And I am not talking about any classical trio. I am talking about my new favorite: Fresh Thyme, Lemon & Garlic.
Yep, this is my new favorite. Why? Well, I could say that it's because there is a bunch of fresh thyme growing in the garden, but really, it's because it is the perfect summery combination. And at this point, we are all wishing that summer would last just a little while longer :)
But why? Why do I keep using this combination? Well, it's not an exact science, but for me, it just tastes good. The earthiness and lemony essences of the thyme are brought out by the fresh lemon zest and juice. And then, of course, there is the garlic. Need I say more?? Yum yum! Put those three aromatics together and you get the perfect flavoring for, well, anything really. I used it in my Fresh Wild BC Salmon recipe a few posts ago. And I will use it now.
In this case, I used these ingredients to make a marinade/rub for pork shoulder chops which will be cooked on the outdoor grill. You could use chicken pieces, steaks, tuna... all would work well using this method.
A few other quick notes before we start cooking. You will notice that in this recipe, I use a meat thermometer. I rarely use any sort of measurement tools when I am cooking (I cook by taste and measure so that I can share with you). However, this is one exception. Pork must be cooked to 160F to avoid becoming infected with trichinosis, a parasitic disease caused by eating undercooked pork.
Do you really need a thermometer? Hey, it's your kitchen, but I highly recommend it. Especially if you are not used to cooking pork. Why? Because sometimes by plain sight, it's hard to tell if the pork is cooked. Since pork is naturally a little pink when it's cooked, it's normal to get a little nervous and end up overcooking the pork, all in the name of food safety. This result? A texture and dryness similar to shoe leather. To avoid this result, I have asked you to cook your pork to 155F. Then, during the covered resting period after the pork has come of the grill, the meat will continue to cook from its own warmth, and the pork will cook up to 160F before you eat it. This resting time will also ensure that the pork meat is nice and juicy! Just the way we like it!
6 Pork Chops, room temperature (really, you can use whatever you like...boneless, bone-in)
Handful of Fresh Thyme, destemmed and chopped finely
Zest of 1 Lemon, finely chopped
Juice of 1 Lemon
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1/4 cup Olive Oil
In a large casserole dish, big enough to hold the 6 pork chops (or a large ziplock bag), combine the chopped thyme, lemon zest, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt and pepper. Mash together with the back of a spoon to get the flavors to combine. Add the olive oil, and mix to combine.
Place the pork chops in the dish (or bag) and massage each one with the marinade. Leave the chops with the marinade in dish and let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
Preheat the the bbq or a grill pan to medium-high heat. Place the pork chops on the grill, then cover and let cook for about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, there should be distinct grill marks on the bottom side of the chops.
Flip each pork chop over, cover, and let cook for another 5 minutes. Once the 5 minutes has passed, you should find that both sides of your chops are nicely brown and marked by grill on each side.
Reduce the heat to medium and, using a meat thermometer, check that the pork chops are cooked (internal temperature should be 155 degrees fahrenheit in the center). If they are not yet at 155F, place the lid back on the grill and cook for another 3 minutes, then check again. If still not at 155F, flip the pork chops and cook covered for another 3 minutes. Continue to do this until the chops reach 155F. How long this takes will depend on how thick your chops are. (As a guideline, it usually takes about 10-12 minutes on med-high heat for chops about 1/2 inch thick).
Once the chops are 155 degrees, remove them from the grill and place on a plate or in a casserole. Cover with tin foil and let rest for 5-10 minutes. This rest should bring the internal temperature up to 160 degrees and allow the juices of pork to redistribute throughout the meat.
Serve with assorted mustards or your other favorite condiments and enjoy!