Tonight, I had just enough time after work to pick-up where I left off with yesterdays cherry beef steak rub. After having such success with outcome of that rub, I wanted to do some grilling with the cherry based rub just to see how it would hold up to the higher temps of a charcoal kettle, and this also gave me the opportunity to formulate a variation of the original for pork. As a few of the savories in the original rub are not the best to enhance the milder pork flavors of center cut loin chops and shoulder chops, this gave me a chance to kill two birds with one rub, so to speak.
So, a hot grill and a reformulation for pork, and we're ready for round two of the great cherry rub-off!
CHERRY MEDITERRANEAN PORK RUB
(all measures are pre-grind from dried ingredients)
6 Tbls (heaping) ground cherries
1.5 Tbls freshly ground garlic powder from minced
1.5 Tbls freshly ground black peppercorn
1 Tbls sweet basil leaves, freshly ground
1 Tbls oregano, freshly ground
1 Tbls rosemary leaves, freshly ground
1 Tbls paprika
1.5 Tbls kosher salt, ground
Prepare the rub as described in the cherry beef steak rub methods found here:
I did discover two things with tonight's rub preparation which were pleasantly surprising...with a triple-grind of the blend, I got a finer grained texture of the cherry, and I found that when applying the dry rub, if you roll your fingers when you have a pinch of rub, it will begin to reform the clumps with the ground cherry. So, that said, I believe a spice shaker would be the best method for application, just to keep the handling of this blend to a minimum, which should aid in keeping the prepared rub's granular texture as fine as possible.
When I was double/triple grinding this rub tonight, I was pouring the ground blend into an average size coffee cup, and it was 3/4 full, so this must yield close to 1 cup of ground and blended rub. I do have about 1/3 of the rub left over, so I coated these chops pretty well.
Here we are after a triple grind...much finer grains than I was able to get from a double-grind:
A mess of assorted chops with a good dose of the rub:
Much finer granules of the ground cherry than last night on the beef steaks...the triple-grind and no-roll handling makes a difference:
A few larger granules of ground cherry showing here...this was before I noticed a change in the application method would be in order. The Cherry seems to want to return to clumps with any handling, so minimal compression, rolling and stirring after the grind seems to help alot:
I'm going with a smaller & hotter fire for tonight, as I suspect the cherry in the rub may tend to scorch more easily than most rubs I've used in the past, so I want to be able to move the chops to the side for indirect cooking earlier in the grilling session if needed...I tossed 3 on the Weber 18.5" kettle with about 2lbs of briqs...:
...and 6 on a 22.5" kettle with about 4lbs of briqs:
Yep, that was quick...the center placed chop took the brunt of the fire, but I wanted to see how quickly it would scorch...about 4 minutes here:
I went indirect after the flip to slow things down until a good amount of juices were showing all the way on the seared side...I was rotating them while over direct fire, and continued to do so while indirect to even out the cooking:
I call this one for my plate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Just off the grills, with tons of steam rolling, as it was in the upper teens ambient temps when I finished these up tonight for dinner:
Well done (I like med/well chops), but still moist...wife said hers cut with a fork the whole way through, of course she likes the center cut chops (like this one) the best. The meat near the bone just about melts in your mouth with a very tender chew:
This rub was a great match-up with the chops. In the absence of smoke, on a lighter flavored meat, a few changes in the savory spices, and a charcoal fired grill, there is a much more intense flavor from the cherry, but in a really good way. The basil, oregano and rosemary were right there not far behind to bring it all home. The black peppercorn and salt seemed perfectly balanced, with the garlic just sort of tagging along to bring up the rear, with a light overall after-taste.
If my next round can even be remotely close to hitting the target flavor profile would be fine by me, but this one is a bull's eye, IMHO. I don't taste anything I don't like, to be more specific. I think with a light to moderate smoke with cherry, apple, hmm, maybe plumb, it would still be a great rub for chops.
For cuts of pork with a stronger flavor such as from the shoulder (butts, picnics), I think some changes would be in order to get the full benefit of the cherry flavor. I'll have time to work on that when the time comes, but with chops, I'm sold.
I told my wife tonight that I think I found some competition for our favorite general purpose rub, Red Bell Pepper. She kinda shook her head in disagreement as she's pretty partial to that stuff, but, she did give me a thumbs up on this rub with the chops. The kids about went nuts like they did last night with the steaks, but they love eating anything I cook outdoors, so that indication may be slightly skewed. They didn't waste time finding the bones in these chops tonight, so they ate well, and that counts for something, too.
So, for all you pork chop lovers, get that grinder fired up on some dried cherries, 'cause you won't be disappointed!