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like summer should taste

June 20 2013 by Kristin at The Kitchen Sink in Pork,Recipe » 10 comments

Grilled Pork Chops with Spice Paste

In some ways, Seattle reminds me of the small town in northern Minnesota where my parents grew up and where my grandparents still live.  Their town sits on the edge of Lake Superior, at a place where dozens of rivers empty out into the lake and the shoreline alternates between rocky beach and sheer cliffs.  In the summer, there’s plenty of blue and green beauty, and the sun shines warm, but not hot, before an evening chill sets in every night.  The same goes for Seattle this June, on the days when it hasn’t been drizzly and gray (today, I’m looking at you).

Grilled Pork Chops with Spice PasteGrilled Pork Chops with Spice Paste

Tuesday was one of those gorgeous, pleasant days.  I sat at my desk, with the sun warm on my face and the breeze floating in through the open window, and thought about northern Minnesota summers and my impending trip to the grocery store to pick up things for dinner.

Grilled Pork Chops with Spice Paste

Those thoughts converged, and I could see my grandfather on the back porch lifting the lid on the grill, and I could hear my grandma busy in the kitchen and the faint sounds of the Twins game playing softly in the background.  I could picture the round wooden table set for dinner, the table crowded with bowls and platters.

Grilled Pork Chops with Spice Paste

Dinner would include plenty of produce from the garden, prepared simply—maybe a big tomato sliced into thick rounds, salted and peppered; a bowl of vinegar-soaked, thinly-sliced cucumbers; a green salad with minced raw onion; foil-wrapped potatoes baked in the oven.  And from the grill, I envisioned one of my grandfather’s specialties—bone-in pork chops, juicy and fire-kissed.  We’d follow it all by a bowl of ice cream or salty buttered popcorn as we curled up in the living room.
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In that moment, I ached to be in that scene.

Grilled Pork Chops with Spice Paste

But Seattle’s awfully far away, so I did my best to approximate it that night at dinner.  The produce was from the grocery instead of the garden (and, sadly, not yet peak season), and Kevin grilled the chops instead of my grandpa.  We ate out front, at another round table miles away from my grandparents’ dining room.  Our meal tasted just like summer should taste, and for one night, that was close enough.
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Grilled Pork Chops with Spice Paste
Adapted from Martha Stewart Everyday Food
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Serves 4
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We LOVED these chops, and will make them all summer long and for summers to come.  I think the blend of spices could be varied, but the below combination of smoky, sweet, and spicy was spot-on.  We had just an hour to let the chops sit in the spice paste, and they were still very flavorful.  I’m excited to see if they improve with a longer soak.
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4 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for grates
2 tablespoons light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
4 bone-in pork loin chops (3 pounds total)
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In a bowl, mix together garlic, oil, sugar, salt, paprika, pepper, and cayenne until a paste forms. Coat pork chops with paste and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate 1 hour (or up to 3).
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Heat grill to medium-high; clean and lightly oil hot grates. Grill pork, covered, 5 minutes per side for medium. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

10 comments so far. »
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  1. pamela says on June 20 2013 at 5:42 pm:

    Once again your writing is so lovely. Transported me back to WI and my Mom’s summer dinner preparations. Such a lovely memory for you to share…and the recipe looks yummy indeed!

  2. Ali says on June 21 2013 at 6:43 am:

    This brought back wonderful memories. I can see the raspeberries on the table in the cool whip container. I hope G&G read this. XO

  3. SaraMarie says on June 21 2013 at 8:58 am:

    You made me think of spending summers at my grandparents in Wisconsin…right down to following dinner with a bowl of ice cream in the living room :-)

  4. Johanna says on June 21 2013 at 10:06 am:

    Such happy memories. We <3 Duluth and the North Shore with all our hearts – only a month and a half until we're eating dinner on the shore at a cabin in Lutsen. :happysigh:

  5. Emily says on June 21 2013 at 8:30 pm:

    Love this post.

  6. Nicole @ OrWhateverYouDo says on June 23 2013 at 7:32 am:

    Doesn’t Seattle remind you so much of Duluth, but on a larger scale? I couldn’t believe it when I first visited there. My family is from Grand Rapids, and we moved to the Puget Sound area from 2006-2011. LOVED it! We’re stuck in Michigan currently, hoping desperately to get back out to the Kitsap peninsula SOON.

    My favorite summer treat at my Grandma’s was raspberries from her garden that had been frozen, and then defrosted (all that juice! Yum!) with sugar sprinkled on top. Does not get better than that. Ever.

    Great blog! Can’t wait to explore it more!

  7. jeri says on June 23 2013 at 9:26 pm:

    Growing up in NJ, the Garden State, summer fruits and vegetables were just out the back door. I remember every morning gong outside to pick strawberries, blueberries or raspberries for my cereal. And needless to say, we had the famous Jersey tomatoes EVERY day. I love living in NYC, but I do get nostalgic sometimes.

  8. Claudia ~ Food with a View says on June 24 2013 at 11:28 pm:

    Beautiful summer plate! Vegetables from the garden prepared in simple, yet delicious ways – you are so right, this is what summer should taste like. We only have a balcony instead of a garden, but grow some things there as well – and isn’t it such a lovely thing to just take a look around and be inspired what you will have for dinner…

  9. Lara says on July 05 2013 at 1:47 pm:

    Ben will love this post. Beautiful writing!

  10. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink says on July 10 2013 at 10:00 am:

    Thanks, everyone, for the kind words. Hope summer is treating you all well.

    Emily: Miss you guys! Hi to Jon & hugs to the girls.

    Lara: Thanks so much! Hope you guys get to MN this summer. Hi to Ben.

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