Hardy Minnesotans do not hesitate to grill when the weather turns cold, but most would agree that it’s a more enjoyable experience without a parka, and it’s much easier to hold your cold beverage when you’re not wearing mittens.

Knowing what our future looks like, let’s get out there and enjoy grilling now while the evenings are still warm and winter gear isn’t necessary.

If you need more incentive to fire up the coals than the threat of frozen precipitation, let me offer this week’s recipe, Brown Sugar Bourbon Grilled Pork Chops.

It’s no surprise that brown sugar, bourbon and pork chops work well together, but only if the chop isn’t dry and overcooked, the brown sugar glaze isn’t burnt and the bourbon flavor comes through just enough without being overwhelming.

Yes, there are a few potholes you want to avoid when grilling pork chops, but that’s easily done.

Brining is a technique where a protein is soaked in a solution that contains salt, sugar and often a flavoring agent, in this case bourbon. Brining works by breaking down some of the muscle tissue in the protein, helping the meat to draw in moisture and, with it, flavor. Since pork chops tend to be lean and without a great deal of flavor on their own, they are a particularly good candidate for this technique.

To drive home the flavors in the brine, we glaze our juicy chops with a barbecue type of sauce that is laced with bourbon. Bourbon, or any other alcohol, tends to lose some of its flavor when cooked, which is why a bit more is added after the glaze has simmered, giving it just enough of a fresh hit of whiskey to be interesting.

When grilling the chops, it’s best to use an indirect heat method. This is done by lighting burners on only one side of the grill or keeping the coals to one side. This allows a little char on the chops over the direct heat side, while the cooking is finished on the gentler indirect heat side, which helps to avoid overcooking.

The result is a moist, flavorful pork chop no matter what time of year you are preparing it.


Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at meredith@meredithdeeds.com. Follow her on Twitter ­at @meredithdeeds.