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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 7, 2010

Cut the fat, but up the flavor

For The Associated Press

If you grill meat regularly, it's worth considering ways to cut the fat but keep the flavor.

Though the marbling of many meats can't be cut away (and to keep things flavorful, you wouldn't want to), trimming any visible fat from the exterior of the meat is an easy way to reduce your intake.

With poultry, the same effect is achieved by removing the skin, which contains a large percentage of the bird's fat.

Now that you've cut the fat, it's time to add flavor. Brines (salt water with seasonings) not only boost flavor, they also help keep meat moist (a problem with lean cuts) by drawing water into it.

A basic brine can be made by dissolving 1/3 cup kosher salt and 1/3 cup sugar (white or brown) in a quart of water. Additional flavorings, such as herbs, spices or even juice, can be added.

Always be sure your brine is ice cold (below 37 F) before adding the meat, then refrigerate everything during the soak.

This process does make meats and poultry more salty, but not necessarily as much as you think.

Tests done by Cook's Illustrated magazine have shown that meats and poultry brined for up to an hour absorb roughly 250 to 350 milligrams of sodium (around 1/8 teaspoon) per serving.

If you're watching your sodium intake, you can put less salt in the brine. And in all instances the meat should be rinsed (which washes away some salt) and dried before grilling. And, of course, there's no need to season with any additional salt.

These juicy, grilled pork chops with peach-jalapeno glaze get a quick flavor brine in a simple kosher salt and brown sugar solution. Be sure to brush the chops with the glaze only during the final minutes of grilling. Otherwise, the glaze will burn.


Start to finish: 1 hour (25 minutes active)

Servings: 4

1/4 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

2 cups boiling water

3 cups ice cubes

2 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 cup peach preserves

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 large or 2 small jalapenos, minced but not seeded

1 pound boneless center cut pork loin chops, trimmed of fat (4 chops)

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste

In a medium bowl, combine the salt and brown sugar. Add the boiling water and stir to dissolve. Add the ice cubes and stir to cool. Add the pork chops, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to an hour.

Meanwhile, make the glaze. In a small saucepan over low, stir the chili powder and cumin until lightly toasted and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl.

Add the peach preserves, lime juice and jalapenos. Stir well, then set aside.

Heat a gas grill to medium or prepare a charcoal fire. Oil the grill grates.

Remove the pork chops from the brine, rinse well and blot dry with paper towels. Season both sides of the pork with ground black pepper.

Grill the pork chops, turning once, until and instant thermometer inserted at the center registers 145 F, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Brush both sides of the chops with the reserved glaze and grill, turning once, for 90 seconds more. Serve with additional peach-jalapeno glaze on the side.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 298 calories; 97 calories from fat; 11 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 58 mg cholesterol; 30 g carbohydrate; 21 g protein; 0 g fiber; 927 mg sodium.