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Rachel's Recipes: Pomegranate-marinated pork sizzles on the grill

By: Rachel Chaddock
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I don’t know about the rest of you, but I always get a good belly laugh when I hear, “Oh, I just love it when my husband/boyfriend/significant other grills. It’s nice to get a break from the kitchen.” Who gets a break from the kitchen? Even if just hamburgers are going on the grill, the person in the kitchen (at least in my family) then has the responsibility of prepping all the sides, whisking away contaminated meat plates and bringing back fresh dry plates to the griller, not to mention refilling drinks, keeping a sharp eye out on the toddler and running out at a second’s notice to give an opinion on the doneness of the meat. A typical conversation in our household goes something like this: “Does this look done to you, sweetie?” he asks. “Well, how long has it been on?” I respond with my own question. “I don’t know. Poke it and tell me what you think,” he says. “That feels like a piece of chicken that has been sitting on the grill for about 15 minutes,” I tell him. This all sounds like I’m complaining … really, I’m not, but I want to put an end to the misconception that one partner grilling lets the other person off the hook. It doesn’t work that way. And if it does, please refer to my e-mail address at the bottom of this column and give me some pointers on how it’s done, because that means something is terribly awry in my house. We’re blessed with lovely weather here in Northern California, and can grill most of the year. Even if it’s cold, my husband rarely objects to firing up the coals. I think it’s a man obsession with setting things on fire. I, myself, do not grill. The one time I did, I burned off my eyebrows and nearly melted a cordless phone. What I can do is make a mean marinade, and with proper treatment, even inexpensive cuts of meat can be transformed into something wonderful on the grill. Recently I picked up a huge pack of pork sirloin chops for less than $1.75 a pound. This is a lean, fairly bland cut of meat that benefits greatly from a bold marinade and the smokiness of the grill treatment. Since I don’t use the grill, my cooking partner in crime is going to interject with some pointers on how to cook the meat once it is ready for the coals (I haven’t the foggiest idea). I’m also going to give instructions on how to cook the meat indoors, in case your grilling partner is under the weather or if, like me, you want to preserve your eyebrows. Serve the chops with some veggies cooked on the grill as well (we used broccolini here) or a fresh, crisp salad, and give warm weather one last hurrah before we turn to the season of casseroles and braises. Rachel Chaddock can be reached by email at rachels.recipes@yahoo.com. She welcomes reader questions and requests. You can also follow her on Twitter, or friend her on Facebook. * * * pomegranate-lime pork sirloin chops 6 1-inch thick boneless pork sirloin chops Juice of 5 limes (about 1/2 cup, depending on your limes) 1/2 cup pomegranate juice 1/8 cup soy sauce 2 tablespoons honey 3 tablespoons sriracha sauce (or a hot sauce of your choice, to taste) 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated (if you don’t have a microplane yet, now is the time to get one) 4 cloves garlic, sliced into big chunks Combine all the ingredients except the pork in a container for marinating or a large, resealable bag, and mix well. Add in the pork chops and marinate, refrigerated, for at least two hours (six would be even better if you can manage to think that far ahead), turning chops once through the process. For the cooking (for both methods, remove the chops from the marinade and pat dry, removing any large chunks of garlic and/or ginger). Leaving some on won’t kill you, though, as you can see from the photo). Rachel’s method: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a heavy, ovenproof skillet (did you get that cast iron pan, yet?), heat 2 tablespoons of oil until hot. Add in pork chops and sear over medium high heat until brown (about 3 - 4) minutes. Flip the chops and repeat the process on the other side. Put the chops, pan and all, into the preheated oven and cook for 10-15 minutes or until desired doneness is reached or until internal temperature is a nice, dry, safe 160 degrees (that is what I am supposed to tell you. When you pull your pork chops is entirely your own affair). Let rest for about 5 minutes before serving. Husband’s method: Over medium coals, place your meat with the thickest part of the cut toward the coals. Turn after seven to 10 minutes and repeat. For added flavor, throw in a small handful of mesquite wood chips (either in a small smoke box after they’ve been soaked in water, beer or wine) or directly on the grill. Depending on the thickness of the meat, they may be done at this point. Using the “touch test,” give them a good poke. If they are soft and mushy, repeat the process. If they are firm, they are probably done. If you’re unsure, move them to the coolest part of the grill and allow them to cook another 10 to 15 minutes. The meat should be juicy and white throughout when sliced (which you should do after removing them).