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Food, Wine

Up Your BBQ Game

Grill crazy: Weeks of hunkering down indoors have made our backyards look more inviting than ever. Just being outdoors around a table, with a nice meal and a bottle of wine, brings normal life a little bit closer. Pandemic or no, it’s barbecue season, and although you can’t cook for a crowd, you can still wheel out the grill and unleash your inner BBQ chef. Pork shoulder chops are more forgiving than pork tenderloin or loin chops because they’re not as lean. That inner marbling makes them tastier, too, and a garlicky, paprika-laced spice rub infuses them with seasoning all the way through.

pork chops

As chefs have been telling us, sustainability means using every part of the animal. Shoulder chops need some extra love because they aren’t naturally tender, but a good spice rub works like a brine to tenderize them. These chops get crusty on the grill, and the spice aroma will make you swoon. Pair them with a colorful, crunchy, California nectarine slaw that may well become your go-to side dish for everything grillable.

Not a pork person? Use the same rub on lamb shoulder chops or tuna steaks. The lamb will need 8 to 24 hours to benefit from the rub, but for the tuna, 30 minutes will do. When nectarine season fades, switch to pears, apples, or grapes. A slaw for all seasons!

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BE THE CHANGE

Being a more responsible consumer is a lot easier now than it used to be. We have so many more choices, from plug-in vehicles to organic dairy products to Certified Sustainable wine. Maybe you have decided to purchase only certified organic fruits and vegetables, or you’re delving into the principles behind biodynamics. What’s important is to be engaged and thoughtful about your choices and to take action where you can. Small steps matter. Compost your kitchen scraps. Don’t toss those beet greens. (They’re tasty!)

Read up on sustainability and what it means in California’s vineyards and wineries. Collectively, our choices can drive big change.

The Pour

Which Wine?

A fruit-forward Zinfandel is the perfect match for grilled pork. This big, bold grape variety is no wallflower. It can stand up to the smoky char of the grill and the heady scents of paprika, garlic and fennel. Ask your wine merchant for a medium-intensity Zin with enough concentration to hold its own. Zinfandel thrives in California’s dry and moderately warmer regions, such as the Sierra Foothills, the vineyards around Lodi and the Sacramento Delta, and Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley. The variety needs a long growing season to reach the full ripeness that yields wines with spice and depth. View the video to hear a vintner explain why California is ideal for growing Zinfandel.

Meet the Grapes: Explore more wine pairings

Grilled Pork Shoulder Chops with Nectarine Slaw

Take over grill duties on Father’s Day and show dad you have the right stuff with these succulent pork chops. Shoulder chops aren’t as common as loin chops so you may need to ask a butcher to cut them for you. They have more flavor, and this garlicky rub guarantees that they will be a dish you want to make all summer long. Juicy California nectarines make this slaw a standout.

Grilled Pork Shoulder Chops with Nectarine Slaw

Ingredients

For the rub: 

  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, crushed between your fingers 
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt 
  • ¾ teaspoon garlic powder 
  • ¾ teaspoon ground fennel 
  • ¾ teaspoon paprika  
  • 4 bone-in pork shoulder blade chops, about 8 ounces (225 g) each and ½ inch (1.25 cm) thick 
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 

 For the dressing: 

  • ¼ cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil 
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, or more as needed 
  • 2 teaspoons honey  
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 

 For the slaw: 

  • ½ pound (225 g) green cabbage, cored and very thin sliced 
  • ¼ pound (115 g) radicchio, cored and very thinly sliced 
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and grated 
  • 1/3 cup (40 g) minced green onion, white and pale green parts only 
  • 1/3 cup (40 g) toasted slivered almonds 
  • 1 large ripe but firm nectarine, very thinly sliced 

 

Directions

  • In a small bowl, combine all the rub ingredients. Brush the chops on both sides with the olive oil. Sprinkle both sides of the chops with the rub, pressing it into place with your fingers. Place the chops on a rack set over a tray and refrigerate, uncovered, for 8 to 24 hours. Bring to room temperature before grilling. 
  • Make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, honey, and salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Prepare a moderately hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to medium-high.
  • Make the slaw: In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, radicchio, carrot, green onion, almonds, and nectarine. Toss to mix. Add enough of the dressing to coat the slaw lightly; you may not need it all. Toss gently and taste for seasoning. 
  • Grill the chops about 5 minutes per side for medium doneness. Let rest 5 minutes to allow the juices to settle, then serve with the slaw. 

Recommended Pairings

California Zinfandel or California Cabernet Sauvignon

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