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September 5, 2012

Brined, Grilled Pork chops

In his new book, Rob Feenie’s Casual Classics, Cactus  Club Cafe Chef – Rob Feenie – showcases his favourite casual recipes to cook for family and friends. Chef Feenie has already redefined casual dining at our restaurants, and now you can redefine your cooking at home with this book. Starting Tuesday, August 7th, for a limited time, you can purchase an autographed copy of the book with a bonus recipe at any Cactus Club Cafe location.

Check back weekly for more recipes from Rob’s new cook book, Casual Classics.

Below is a recipe for the brined grilled pork chops – just one of the delicious and easy recipes you can expect from Rob’s new cookbook:

Pork has been part of my family’s repertoire for as long as I can remember: Mom made her famous pork roast every Sunday. My wife and I love pork as well, but we brine it first for at least twenty-four hours to keep the meet very moist and hard to overcook. The relish mixes apples with sweet pineapple, then gets a nice kick of heat from chili flakes and a bit of acid from rice vinegar. Combined with Brussels sprouts – cooked at the last minute with bacon, a touch of lemon and a hint of Parmesan cheese to finish – this is a flavourful, well-rounded dish. Serve these chops with some roasted potatoes or even polenta as well. Serves 4. – Chef Feenie


Pork Chops

¼ cup kosher salt

½ cup sugar

4 cups water

1 Tbsp crushed black peppercorns

1 bunch fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

4 double-cut pork chops, each 12 to 14 oz

2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

Apple-Pineapple Relish

½  cup diced Granny Smith apple

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

½ cup diced pineapple

1 Tbsp rice vinegar

1 Tbsp liquid honey

½ cup roasted pecans, lightly crushed

Braised Brussels sprouts

1 cup diced good-quality maple-smoked bacon

2 Tbsp finely chopped shallots

1 lb Brussels sprouts, cleaned and thinly sliced

1 Tbsp butter

Juice of ½ lemon (about 1 Tbsp)

2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Pork Chops

To brine pork, combine salt, sugar and the 4 cups water in a large glass or enamel bowl, mixing until dissolved. Add peppercorns, thyme and bay leaves and refrigerate until cold, about 30 minutes. Place pork chops in a large resealable bag, cover with brine and close tightly. Place the bag in a large bowl and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Apple-pineapple relish

In a large bowl, toss apple with lemon juice until well coated. Add pineapple, rice vinegar and honey and set aside. This relish will keep (without the pecans, which are added just before serving) refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Finish Pork Chops

Preheat a barbecue grill to 400˚F. Line a plate with paper towels. Using tongs, remove pork chops from the brine and set on the lined plate to absorb any liquid. (If the pork chops are damp, the meat will flame on the barbeque.) Discard the brine. Allow pork chops to come to room temperature, 15 to 20 minutes, then season with salt and black pepper and brush lightly with olive oil.

Grill chops for 5 minutes, then turn them 45˚ and cook for another 5 minutes. Turn chops over, and grill for 5 minutes, then turn them 45˚ and grill for 5 minutes more. Insert a meat thermometer; once the meat reads 160˚F, immediately remove chops from the heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Braised Brussels sprouts

Line a small plate with a paper towel. In a medium frying pan on medium heat, cook bacon until lightly crispy, about 5 minutes. (If meat begins to smoke, reduce the heat). Remove bacon from the pan and drain on the lined plate. Carefully pour off some of the rendered fat, then add shallots and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir in Brussels sprouts and cook for 2 more minutes, then add bacon and butter and toss lightly. Season with salt, black pepper and lemon juice. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese.

To Serve

Fold pecans into the apple-pineapple relish. Divide the Brussels sprouts mixture among each of 4 plates. Place a pork chop over the sprouts and spoon a tablespoon of the apple mixture on top. Serve immediately.

In Casual Classics, Rob Feenie hits the nail on the head; the recipes and the stories are the perfect building blocks to delightful and delicious family means. Letting the ingredients shine is the best advice of all. – Mario Batali