Bourbon and flame fires up the pork chop
I recently had the pleasure of meeting Fred Noe, the seventh-generation master distiller who literally grew up at the Jim Beam distillery in the middle of Kentucky. We met over a tasting of country ham and bourbon during which I discovered some new hams and whiskeys to add to my growing list of favorite things to eat and drink. Not surprisingly, I also found out that he and I share a love of grilling.
Many bourbon lovers know Booker’s, but what they might not know is that the bourbon is named after its creator, Booker Noe, Jim Beam’s sixth-generation distiller and Fred Noe’s father.
According to his son, Booker’s bourbon was quite literally “his baby,” and he made everyone promise not to mess with it once he retired. It is uncut and unfiltered, and a high 127.9 proof, which means you might want to drink it with a splash of water or an ice cube to enjoy all the nuances of the flavors.
It also means that the high-proof, uncut spirit is ideal for flambe. Booker was famous for his “BourbonQ” take on barbecue. In fact, he still is; his son keeps the spirit alive by making it often. His signature dish has been made world over. It is a grilled and flambeed bone-in porterhouse (or T-bone) pork chop. With Fred Noe’s permission, I am calling it “Booker’s pork chop flambe.”
And it’s not just for effect. Noe assured me that the bourbon flambe made a difference in the flavor of the pork chop, and he was right. Plus, it really is a dramatic and fun presentation.
I followed his recipe and purchased two 1-inch-thick bone-in porterhouse pork chops. Each had a beautiful nugget of tenderloin on one side of the bone and a thick “steak” on the other. And they each weighed exactly 1 pound.
Riffing slightly from his direction, I brushed the pork steaks with olive oil and seasoned them liberally with my own version of a well-seasoned salt blend. I heated my grill and grilled both sides of the chops over direct heat to mark them. After a couple of minutes, I moved them to a gentler indirect heat. After 30 minutes, the chops were cooked through, but still juicy and sported beautiful grill marks.
Then I placed them on a platter, drizzled them with Booker’s bourbon and lit them on fire. The bourbon gravy that is left after the flames burn out flavors every bite of the pork chop.
Booker’s Pork Chop Flambe
This recipe is easily doubled or tripled to feed a crowd. Booker’s bourbon works great for this recipe. You can substitute another bourbon, but make sure it has a similar alcohol volume.
For the seasoning salt
For the chops
Prepare a grill for medium heat, direct and indirect cooking. For a charcoal grill, this means banking the hot coals to one side of the grill. For a gas grill, this means turning off one or more burners to create a cooler side.
To prepare the seasoning salt, in a small bowl combine the garlic, onion powder, paprika and salt. Set aside.
Use paper towels to pat dry the pork chops. Brush them all over with olive oil, then season liberally with the seasoning salt mixture. Place the chops over the hot side of the grill and sear for 2 minutes per side. Transfer the chops to the cooler side and cook, covered, for about 25 minutes, or until the chops reach 145 degrees at the center (with a thermometer inserted horizontally into the center of the chop from the side).
Transfer the chops to a flame-proof platter. Drizzle the bourbon over the chops, then light with a match. Let the flames burn out and let the chops rest for 5 minutes. Serve with some of the flambe juices. Serves 4.
Per serving: 270 calories; 13 g fat (3 g saturated fat; 110 percent calories from fat); 3 g carbohydrates; 0 g sugar; 90 mg cholesterol; 1,530 mg sodium; 29 g protein; 1 g fiber.