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Spring offers a change of flavors with grilled Iowa Chops

Spring has finally sprung, melting the snow that has covered the landscape all around us here in Iowa for the past few months. Warmer weather means a switch-up when it comes to the weekly family meal plan. Comforting soups, stews and casseroles t...

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This recipe for buttered garlic herb Iowa chops adds savory garlic herb butter at the end of grilling. Cristen Clark / Agweek

Spring has finally sprung, melting the snow that has covered the landscape all around us here in Iowa for the past few months. Warmer weather means a switch-up when it comes to the weekly family meal plan. Comforting soups, stews and casseroles take a back seat to the fresh vibrant foods of spring and grilled fare as temperatures heat up and there's no snow to melt off of the grill before using it.

In my opinion, there are a few key "ingredients" in grilling successfully.

First you've got to start off with a great cut of meat that's pretty near to room temperature. I like to set out the meat or marinade bag with meat marinating inside, on a platter while I preheat the grill. Once the meat is nearly room temperature, I pat it dry and season it. If I'm using a marinade, I remove the meat from the marinade, pat it dry and season from there.

Did you know if your marinade has a high acid content, the meat actually begins cooking as it is marinating and that can translate to a less appealing texture? Be sure to control the amount of time your meat is marinating in a high acidity marinade (think vinegars, citrus juices), 20-30 minutes should do the trick.

Then the proper grill temperature is vital to cook various cuts of meat correctly to the perfect final cooking temperature before removing it from the heat for a quick rest to redistribute the juices before it's time to dig in. Give your grill ample time to preheat with all burners, and then utilize an indirect, or lower heat zone with some burners turned off once you've seared your selection over generous heat.

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Growing up, there weren't fancy digital instant read thermometers to provide guidance on when to pull the pork chops off the grill, so unfortunately I grew up thinking all pork chops - no matter what - were dry. Grilling for myself now, with a digital thermometer as my ultimate kitchen sidekick, no one gets overcooked pork. The USDA recommends that whole muscle cuts of pork may be grilled safely to medium doneness or 145 degrees F which results in a juicy, delicious pork chop.

My favorite pork chop to enjoy is the Iowa Chop. The term "Iowa Chop" was coined by the Iowa Pork Producers Association in 1976 and is used to describe a 1¼-inch thick, bone-in, center cut pork chop. The Iowa Chop can be a rib chop that does not include the tenderloin portion, but if it does include the tenderloin portion, it is a "Porterhouse Chop".

Take your traditional grilled pork chop up a notch with this simple recipe that adds savory garlic herb butter at the end of grilling.

Buttered Garlic Herb Iowa Chops

Makes 4 thick cut Iowa Chops

Serves: 4

Ingredients:
4 thick cut "Iowa" Pork Chops (1¼-inch thickness)

2 teaspoons Lawry's seasoned salt or other seasoned salt

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1 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons butter, melted

2 teaspoons fresh parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely minced

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

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Directions:

Preheat grill to high heat.

In a small mixing bowl combine minced garlic and salt, smash together until a paste is formed. Add melted butter, parsley, thyme, rosemary and red pepper flakes. Mix well. Set aside.

When grill temperature reaches 450-500 degrees, sear pork chops for 2 minutes on each side. Once seared, reduce heat to medium/medium high. Brush garlic herb butter mixture onto pork chops, flipping one additional time to coat both sides. Continue to grill for 10-15 minutes until chops register 145 degrees F in the thickest part when tested with a digital instant read thermometer. Pour any remaining garlic herb butter into a glass dish, place cooked pork chops on top to rest for 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

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Cristen Clark

Related Topics: FOOD
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