Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Grilling up some delicious !!

Chances are, when you think about Iowa the first thing you think about is pigs or corn. That's ok, Iowan's have a proud heritage rooted in agriculture and feeding the world. We are the home of the World Food Prize.  Iowa averages around forty million hogs a year, which amounts to about one-third of the nation's total hog production. That is A LOT of bacon! But we're not cooking bacon today, we are cooking up some pork chops!

This summer a very exciting opportunity came my way- a chance at a partnership with the Iowa Pork Producers. My assignment? Pick one of over 2,000 pork recipes from the website, prepare it, and then tell everyone about it. Included in the deal were some great gifts and coupons to pay for the pork. How's that for a great opportunity?

Cooking is such a passion of mine. It's an art form, a way to express myself in a way that is unique to me. It's a science. Recipes are formulas. Some work, some don't. It's a hobby. Canning, baking and recipe development are things I enjoy working on. And for some, it's a career. It was so hard for me to pick just one recipe. Just think how many different cuts of pork are available. Roasting, broiling, grilling, smoking- it took me three days to decide.

One recipe beckoned to me. It spoke to me. It said "Hey Monica........I have Riesling in my ingredients."  How can I say no to that? Riesling is my favorite wine of all wines. Maybe it's my German heritage. Whatever the case, I knew this recipe was the one. So off to collect the ingredients I went. Beautiful boneless pork loin chops, a little on the thick cut side, fit the bill perfectly. Fresh lemon, some beautiful organic vegetables to serve alongside, and a great bottle of German Riesling and I was ready to cook! 

A quick note about cooking with wine- always, always, always choose a wine you would drink, maybe even with the same meal. Don't go cheap because it's "just for cooking" and never EVER choose cooking wine. If you are taking the time to prepare a wonderful meal, don't ruin it with junky wine. I chose Barefoot Riesling because it's less sweet than others, great for cooking, and I actually enjoy drinking it- it's a good sipping wine.

So let's talk about the recipe. I chose Carolina Riesling Pork Chops

The ingredients are:

  • 8 top loin pork chops, about 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper, coarsely ground
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 12 cloves garlic, minced (2 tablespoons)
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups dry Riesling
  • 3 TB fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

The method:

Sprinkle the pork chops with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add half the chops. Brown chops quickly for 1-2 minutes. Remove from skillet and keep warm. Add remaining oil and brown the remaining chops. Remove from skillet. 

Reduce heat to medium low, add garlic to skillet. Cook and stir for 30 seconds. Add mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until tender and moist. 

Remove skillet from heat. Add Riesling and lemon juice to mushrooms, return skillet to heat. Return chops to pan, bring to boil. Reduce heat and cover, gently simmer on low heat for 30 minutes until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees. Stir in cream. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened.

I served the pork chops with roasted potatoes and steamed fresh green beans. I also used some chopped fresh parsley when finishing the sauce. I found it easier to remove the chops when I added the cream- it was easier to stir the sauce. And of course, I served the remaining Riesling with dinner- it was perfect!

The pork chops were so tender and delicious. I'm so glad I chose a thicker cut, they didn't dry out during cooking and stayed juicy. The sauce was creamy and mushroomy and the Riesling added the perfect acidic element to tone down the richness of the cream. The garlic added the perfect touch and I chose baby portobello mushrooms because they have a bit of an earthy flavor, a little more depth than white mushrooms. The chopped fresh parsley was the bright herbal touch I wanted to achieve.

These days pork is a whole different meat than a generation ago. The old cooked-to-death dried up pork chops are a thing of the past. Leaner and healthier, today's pork should be cooked to 145 degrees and rested for 3 minutes before serving. This keeps the pork juicy and delicious. In this particular recipe the chops were so tender and so flavorful with the Riesling adding a nice fruity flavor to the sauce- not in a sweet way, but in a "winey" way. Pork goes perfect with mushrooms too. The mushrooms add an earthy note to the dish, and garlic- you can never go wrong with garlic!    

Now.......for the FUN part- the giveaway!!! The Iowa Pork Producers Association has put together a fun giveaway pack for me to send to one lucky reader. So fire up your grills, and get ready to cook something amazing.

The prize package includes:

  • $50 in pork coupons
  • A 3-piece grilling tool set
  • A bottle of Iowa-made barbeque sauce
  • "Pork. Be Inspired" grilling apron
  • Meat Thermometer (to help you grill that pork to 145 degrees)
I'd like to give a BIG thank you to the Iowa Pork Producers for this wonderful partnership opportunity and for providing the pork for this recipe. I will be making many, many more recipes from the website.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*****NOTE: Contest limited to US residents, please.

Original recipe can be found on the Iowa Pork Producers' Website by clicking here-  http://www.porkbeinspired.com/RecipeDetail/1563/Carolina_Riesling_Pork_Chops.aspx


  1. It looks delicious! Thanks for the great post!!

  2. I like to grill marinated pork tenderloin.

  3. Yvonna Christine HooperJune 22, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    Looks yummy!

  4. Can't wait to try out some of your recipes.

  5. Looks and sounds absolutely delicious, and being from Iowa our pork can't compare so it's certain to be good! ;o)