Memorial Day is coming and marks the official start of summer party season. Millions of people will be firing up the grill for the long weekend and beyond, and here in the South, they’ll be making endless pitchers and jugs of ice cold sweet tea to keep things cool. So I decided to combine the two for the perfect summer meal.
I’ve always found that brining is a great tool when cooking pork on the grill. It keeps a meat that can quickly dry out juicy and tender. I have seen many recipes for brining various meats in tea, and they’ve made me curious. But I wanted to take that sweet tea flavor one step further, giving the pig the full Southern treatment. There’s a subtle flavor infused through the meat, but it is the sweet and tangy glaze that takes it up that extra notch.
So fire up the grill and brew up a pitcher (or maybe some bourbon-laced Sweet Tea Juleps) and celebrate summer Southern style.
Grilled Sweet Tea Glazed Pork Chops
For the Chops:
4 cups water
½ cup sugar
½ cup kosher salt
4 black tea bags
4 sprigs fresh mint
4 boneless center cut pork chops
For the Glaze:
1 ½ cups water
3 garlic cloves
2 black tea bags
4 – sprigs fresh mint
¾ cup light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
Stir 2 cups of water, the sugar and salt together in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Remove from the heat and add the tea bags and mint. Leave to cool, then remove the tea and mint and stir in the remaining 3 cups of water. Place the pork chops in a flat container or a ziptop bag placed on plate. Pour the cooled brine over the chops and refrigerate for 8 hours, but up to 12 is fine.
For the glaze:
Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan with a lid. Peel the garlic cloves and crush with the flat side of a knife. Remove the pan from the heat and add the tea bags, garlic cloves and mint. Cover the pan and leave to steep for 30 minutes.
Fish out the tea bags, garlic and mint, then add the brown sugar and vinegar and return to medium high heat. Cook the glaze, stirring frequently, until reduced by a little more than half and thick and syrupy, about 20 minutes. Keep the glaze warm over low heat.
Heat the grill to high heat, then place the pork chops on the grates. Cook for about 5 minutes on one side, then flip to the other side. Don’t flip the chops until they easily lift off the grates. Lower the heat, over the grill and finish cooking the chops until cooked through, about 10 minutes, to an internal temperature of 145°. In the last few minutes of cooking, brush on a thick coat of glaze, then finish cooking. When the chops are done, brush with another coat of glaze, then remove to a platter. Tent with foil and let rest for 5 minutes.
Serve the chops immediately, with more glaze spooned over the top.
To cook in the oven, heat a grill pan or cast iron skillet to high and sear the chops on each side, brush with a little glaze, then transfer to a preheated 400° oven. Cook until 145° internal temperature. Remove from the oven, and brush with a little more glaze. Tent with foil and let rest for 5 minutes.