Many of the cuts of pork that we offer at Chi Spacca are the result of our wanting to use the entire animal. This recipe is borne of that goal. The shoulder blade chop, which comes, obviously, from the shoulder, fulfills the expectations of a typical pork chop, which comes from the loin. Putting a cut like this on the menu introduces our customers not just to a cut they might not already know, but to the idea that there is a whole world of animal cuts out there, many of which they may not have tried. If you want to use the more widely known pork loin chops for this recipe, they will work, too.
If we were playing a game of what-goes-with-what, and you said, “pork,” I’d say, “apples.” The apple flavor is incorporated here in the form of an apple cider syrup that we glaze these chops with, something that also satisfies my love of acidic foods. We use Carr’s Ciderhouse Cider Syrup, an artisanal product from the Berkshires that my friend the food writer Ruth Reichl introduced me to when I was at her house in Hudson, NY. I liked it so much that she sent me home with a bottle. If you don’t want to seek out that product, we have provided a recipe for making a glaze using standard apple cider vinegar. Chipotle chiles are dried, smoked jalapeño chiles; they have a wonderful, deeply smoky flavor. If you can’t find chipotle chile powder, use sweet smoked paprika or another quality chile powder.
Ask your butcher for 2 (3⁄4-inch-thick) pork shoulder blade chops, about 1 pound each. You will need a large platter to serve the chops.
FOR THE SYRUP (if you are not buying Carr’s Ciderhouse Cider Syrup)
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
FOR THE PORK
1 tablespoon ground coriander seeds
1 tablespoon chipotle Chile powder (or smoked sweet paprika or another chile powder)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 (3⁄4-inch-thick) pork shoulder blade chops (about 1 pound each)
FOR THE ONIONS
2 large yellow Spanish onions, peeled and sliced into 1⁄2-inch rings
2 cups apple cider vinegar
FOR THE SYRUP
1. Combine the apple cider vinegar, apple cider, and balsamic vinegar in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low to maintain a gentle simmer and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until the liquid has reduced to a syrupy consistency.
PREPARE THE PORK
1. First make the rub: grind the coriander seeds in a spice grinder and transfer them to a small bowl. Add the chipotle chile powder, salt and brown sugar and stir to combine.
2. Put the chops in a baking dish or on a large plate. Sprinkle the rub evenly over the meat and use the meat to mop up any rub that falls onto the dish or plate. Set aside for 30 minutes to 1 hour to let the seasonings penetrate the pork and for the pork to come to room temperature.
3. Prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill. Move all of the coals to one side of the grill so you have both direct and indirect heat. If you have a gas grill, preheat one side for high heat and leave one side of the grill with no heat on; if it is an option, close the lid on the side with no heat.
4. While the grill is heating, place the onions in a large sauté pan. Add the cider vinegar and bring it to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-high and gently boil the vinegar and onions for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are tender and the vinegar coats them like a glaze. Turn off the heat.
5. Place the pork chops on the grill over the direct heat and grill for about 4 minutes, until the undersides are golden brown with dark grill marks. Move the pork chops to the side of the grill where there is no flame and cook over the indirect heat, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, until the meat is firm to the touch. Remove the pork chops from the grill and place them on a large serving platter.
1. Drizzle the apple cider syrup over the pork chops and lay the onions on and around the pork chops, leaving the meat in the center of the platter visible.
EXCERPTED FROM CHI SPACCA BY NANCY SILVERTON, WITH RYAN DENICOLA AND CAROLYNN CARREÑO. COPYRIGHT © 2020 NANCY SILVERTON. EXCERPTED BY PERMISSION OF ALFRED A. KNOPF, A DIVISION OF PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. NO PART OF THIS EXCERPT MAY BE REPRODUCED OR REPRINTED WITHOUT PERMISSION IN WRITING FROM THE PUBLISHER.