grilling

grilled pork chops with vidalia onion and peach relish

Okay friends. I’m officially, like, the worst blogger in the entire world.

grilled pork chops with vidalia onion and peach relish | Brooklyn Homemaker

I literally was just saying how sorry I was about waiting so long between posts, and how much I’ve missed you and was so ready to get back into the swing of things and get back to posting regularly and often.

Then I disappear for another month.

grilled pork chops with vidalia onion and peach relish | Brooklyn Homemaker

Here it is, the beginning of summer. The beginning of fresh fruit, bright greens, a beautiful bounty I’ve been dreaming about for months. Asparagus season. Strawberry season. Rhubarb. Ramps. Snap peas. Scapes. Swiss chard. Fava beans. Fennel. Fiddlehead ferns. Vidalia onions. The first summer peaches.

This is the beginning of the best possible time for a food blogger, and suddenly I fall off the face of the internet.

grilled pork chops with vidalia onion and peach relish | Brooklyn Homemaker

So, here I am again to apologize to you. My readers. My friends.

This has been a crazy summer so far, and it’s only just begun.

grilled pork chops with vidalia onion and peach relish | Brooklyn Homemaker

See, Russell and I just started working on a really special project together. It’s in the very early stages still so I don’t really want to get into the details just yet.

Sorry to be so mysterious and leaving you hanging. We just want to get a little further along before we really share the whole thing. Don’t you worry none, I promise that I’ll spill all the beans as soon as we’re ready.

grilled pork chops with vidalia onion and peach relish | Brooklyn Homemaker

For now though, this special project is requiring almost all of my attention when I’m not at work, so as much as it pains me, that means we’re going to be missing each other for most of this summer.  I hope to be able to get at least a few fresh summer fruit pies or big fancy salads in before it’s too late, but I’m going to be posting a lot less frequently than I’d like to.
It’ll all be worth it in the end though. I promise!

grilled pork chops with vidalia onion and peach relish | Brooklyn Homemaker

All this craziness doesn’t mean that I’ve missed out completely on the bounty of the season. I’ve done my best to take advantage of the early summer. Whenever I’ve had a minute to myself I’ve tried to play with strawberries and asparagus and everything I can get my hands on.

I even got my hands on some real Vidalia onions, in season, fresh from Georgia. I haven’t had much experience with sweet onions before, and I have to tell you these puppies are unbelievable. I knew they’d be sweeter than a regular yellow onion, but I didn’t expect them to be so mild. I’ve been using them for everything I can think of, including an amazing German cucumber salad, and of course, the amazing recipe I’m sharing today.

grilled pork chops with vidalia onion and peach relish | Brooklyn Homemaker

You want to get the thickest prettiest pork chops you can get your hands on, and cook them over real hardwood charcoal until they’re seared and smoky on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside. It’s super easy to overcook pork, so I recommend using a meat thermometer.

Back in the days of yore people were really afraid of pink pork because they’d been told it’d make them sick. I won’t get into all the weird and nerdy details, but let me just say that perceived threat isn’t really a threat any longer and the USDA has recently reduced their recommended cooking temperature for pork from 160F to 145F. If you bring your pork up to 135 and remove and tent with foil for a 10 minute rest, your pork will just hit 145 to 150 and perfect. It may have a tiny touch of pink in the center but it’ll be so moist and juicy you won’t believe it. Don’t be scared. You have nothing to be scared of. I promise. So does the USDA.

I didn’t brine my chops, but I did follow this recipe from Serious Eats.

To compliment this smoky tender heavenly pork, you can’t go wrong with a sweet and creamy relish of caramelized Vidalia onions with peaches and a touch of bourbon and ginger.
This shit is thebomb.com

grilled pork chops with vidalia onion and peach relish | Brooklyn Homemaker

Grilled Pork Chops with Vidalia Onion and Peach Relish

2 tablespoons butter
1 large Vidalia onion, sliced thin into half circles
3 ripe peaches, peeled pitted and diced
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
1 to 2 tablespoons bourbon or American whiskey
1 tablespoon sugar (optional, depending on sweetness of peaches)
2 to 4 pork chops, thick cut (1 to 1.5 inches thick), about 3/4 to 1 pound each

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once butter is bubbling add onions and about 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir occasionally, watching carefully that the onions don’t brown too quickly, for about 20 to 30 minutes. Caramelizing onions is all about going slow and low, be patient and turn down the heat a bit if the onions are browning unevenly or too quickly.

Once the onions are softened and take on a creamy quality, add peaches, vinegar, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Cook for about 5 minutes, add bourbon, and cook 5 minutes more. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. If your peaches weren’t very sweet, or if you’d like the relish sweeter, stir in sugar and cook a few minutes more.
This relish can be made days in advance if you’d like, but should be served warm over the pork. This recipe makes enough relish for at least 4 pork chops.

Generously season your pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper.
Prepare your grill. If using a charcoal grill (recommended) try to organize the coals on one side so you have a hot side and a cooler side.

Sear your chops over the hot side of the grill, for about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Once both sides are seared transfer the chops to the cooler side of the grill with the bones facing the hotter side. Cover about 10 minutes and start checking with a meat thermometer. Once the chops reach 135 to 140, transfer to a plate and tent with foil to rest for about 10 minutes.

Serve with a generous dollop of warm onion relish, and with grilled asparagus if desired.

grilled mojo pork skewers

Wow you guys. I can’t believe how long it’s been since I last posted!

grilled mojo pork skewers | Brooklyn Homemaker

What a month it’s been! I’m so sorry for just falling off the face of the planet like that. Right after my last post I started a “little” project in our guest room, tidying up in preparation for a visit from my mother.

We don’t really use the space we call our “guest room” for much more than a room to store paper towels, kitchen electrics, and my ever-growing blog prop hoard. It’s basically a giant closet with a bed in it, and usually the bed is so deeply buried under slow cookers and dessert plates that you wouldn’t even know a bed was under there if you weren’t looking for it. It’s basically an oversized “junk drawer”, a place where we throw random stuff when we’re trying to clean the house for company but don’t feel like putting things where they actually belong!

grilled mojo pork skewers | Brooklyn Homemaker

The guest room is the only space in our apartment that we never painted when we moved in, and for almost 5 years the space has been an embarrassing, seldom-used, neglected eyesore of a room that we do our best to keep hidden behind a constantly closed door. When overnight guests would come for a visit, we’d do our best to clean off and make the bed, but the room was always so overwhelmed by junk that there wasn’t much more we could do.

About a month ago, I thought it was finally time to do something about it.

grilled mojo pork skewers | Brooklyn Homemaker

For mother’s day this year I decided to use a little vacation time and go up to help my mom out with some projects around her house, and she offered to come down to the big city to pick me up rather than having me rent a car or take the bus. Thing is, every time my mom comes for a visit, every single time without fail, she asks when we’re going to paint in there and finally do something with that room. Since the room needed tidying anyway, I decided to bit the bullet and bust out my brushes and rollers.

I thought I’d still have time to try to squeeze in a blog post or two before my mother’s day trip, but my painting project quickly snowballed into almost two weeks of spring cleaning and household improvement projects. Before painting I thought I’d go through and toss a few things to make a little room in there, but what ended up happening was much more involved. We ended up going over every inch of the room and throwing away half of the old clothes and random junk we’ve collected over the years. Then we packed up stacks of boxes and old suitcases with even more junk to store upstate in mom’s attic. Then of course, moving all the furniture in there back and forth meant that the painting took much longer than I expected, and once I was finally done I decided to do a little redecorating too. By that point I was on a roll, and while the paint dried I decided to go all in and re-caulk my shower, install new (brighter) light fixtures in my living room, and do some cleaning and planting in the back yard too. My apartment has never looked better but I am POOPED!!!

grilled mojo pork skewers | Brooklyn Homemaker

At some point in this two week span I did find a minute to make (and photograph) these amazing mojo marinated grilled pork skewers, but by the time the dust settled and I sat down for 5 minutes, I was too exhausted to actually write the post or edit the photos.

The next thing I knew mom was here and I was whisked upstate to help her with another laundry list of projects around her house. With the best of intentions I brought my laptop along with me thinking I could edit photos at night before bed, but of course that never happened either.

grilled mojo pork skewers | Brooklyn Homemaker

Time rolled along and before I knew it a month had passed since the last time I’d spent any time with you guys. I literally can’t believe it. I don’t think I’ve ever gone so long without posting, and it felt pretty weird. I’m glad I got so much done, but boy howdy how I’ve missed you!

We’re almost in the midst of grilling season proper now though, so I suppose this recipe is coming at the right time anyway.

grilled mojo pork skewers | Brooklyn Homemaker

This citrusy cuban mojo marinade is absolutely amazing with tender chunks of grilled pork. The sweet citrus and earthy cumin and oregano pair perfectly with the delicate pork and gentle smokiness of a charcoal grill. The original sauce recipe called for the garlic to be pulverized into a paste in a mortar and pestle, but since I was using it as a marinade I decided to make things easier on myself and just crush the garlic in a garlic press. If you’d like to reserve some for later dipping, you probably won’t want chunks of garlic floating in it so the extra work is probably necessary.

I served my pork with some grilled whole red potatoes, gently smashed and covered in creme fraiche and fresh parsley. This pork would be excellent though with a bright citrusy salad, maybe something with black beans, or avocado. Maybe some grilled corn? My wheels are spinning already, and my mouth is watering!!!

Happy grilling y’all! It’s good to be back!

grilled mojo pork skewers | Brooklyn Homemaker

Grilled Mojo Pork Skewers


marinade adapted from serious eats

Mojo marinade:
8 cloves garlic, very finely minced or crushed
1/3 cup of fresh orange juice and 1/3 cup of fresh lime juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 to 4 lbs pork loin or tenderloin, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (about 1/2 lb per serving)
1 to 2 limes, cut into segments, for serving

Directions: 
Whisk all marinade ingredients together in a small bowl or measuring cup until well combined.
Add cubed pork to a large bowl with a tight fitting lid (or a leak-proof resealable bag). Add marinate and stir (or shake) to coat. Marinate for 1 to 4 hours.
If using wooden skewers, soak in a tray of water for at least 30 minutes while pork is marinating.

Discard marinade and thread pork chunks onto skewers. If desired, you can alternate with cubes of tropical fruit (citrus segments, mango, etc.) or onion. (I went for all pork)

Prepare and preheat a hot grill. Clean and lightly oil grill grate. Cook pork skewers, turning once, for 3 to 4 minutes per side. Do not overcook or they will become dry and tough.
Let rest, loosely covered in foil, for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with lime segments if desired.

grilled chicken tacos with cilantro pesto and red cabbage slaw

Growing up in Auburn, New York, my only concept of Mexican food was the drive-thru menu at Taco Bell.

grilled chicken tacos with cilantro pesto and red cabbage slaw | Brooklyn Homemaker

All through my childhood I thought “Mexican food” meant odd smelling greasy ground beef with a choice of soft or crunchy taco. If my mom ever had a hankering for something from “south of the border”, it meant she would have to make two trips; one to Taco Bell for her, and one to the Burger King across the street for my sister and myself. The only thing Taco Bell ever had to offer that I had any interest in was their sweet and greasy Cinnamon Twists, the American bastard cousin of the Churro, that I’d happily munch on while we rode across the street to get some “real” food at the BK.

Although I pride myself in being an adventurous eater now, as a kid I was anything but, and my mom was well aware that cooking tacos at home was also a no-no. My sister and I both made it perfectly clear that “Mexican food” (ground beef with seasoning packet and crunchy shells from a box) was not welcome in our home.

grilled chicken tacos with cilantro pesto and red cabbage slaw | Brooklyn Homemaker

When I went vegetarian in high school (all the cool kids were doing it) I did end up learning to love Taco Bell, and my usual order consisted of a Chalupa Supreme with refried beans instead of meat. To this day, if I ever find myself in line at the Bell, this is still my go-to order. Even though I eat meat now, I’m not a huge fan of theirs, so I’m more than happy to stick with the beans instead.

grilled chicken tacos with cilantro pesto and red cabbage slaw | Brooklyn Homemaker

Considering that I grew up only a few hours from the bright lights of the big city, I’m really not sure why my hometown was so completely devoid of any authentic Latin food or culture (or ANY food or culture other than American or Italian). I don’t think it even really occurred to me that Taco Bell wasn’t “authentic Mexican cuisine” (Or that Hong Kong Buffet wasn’t “authentic Chinese cuisine”) until I started watching the Food Network in high school and learned there was more to the world of food than was available in my little slice of the world.

grilled chicken tacos with cilantro pesto and red cabbage slaw | Brooklyn Homemaker

Of course, taking culinary courses in college opened my eyes to a whole new world of flavors and cuisines, and there were even a few mediocre Mexican restaurants near my school. It wasn’t until moving to Brooklyn though, that I was finally able to taste actual authentic Mexican food, made by REAL Mexicans! Imagine my surprise when I learned what a real chalupa looked like!

There was a small family owned tortilla factory down the street from my first apartment here, and shortly after I moved in they opened a little lunch counter with amazing tacos on fresh tortillas that could be bought for a song. Eventually the tacos caught on with the 20 year old hipster set and their lunch business blew up and turned into a full scale restaurant business. I practically lived off of those tacos for my first few years in Brooklyn.

grilled chicken tacos with cilantro pesto and red cabbage slaw | Brooklyn Homemaker

Here’s the thing about “authentic” Mexican taco recipes though… This isn’t actually one of them.
You may have already guessed this after seeing the Pfeffernusse, apfelkuchen, & kugelhopf recipes in my repertoire, but… I’m not Mexican.
If I want the real deal I need only to walk around the corner. If I’m making my own at home though, I feel like I’m allowed to take a little poetic license, especially now that I know what a real taco actually tastes like!

I will say this though; Cilantro, though not necessarily in this form, is about as traditional an ingredient for tacos as you can find. Fresh lime juice and the pungent bite of raw onion, both of which you’ll find in the red cabbage slaw, are also integral parts of authentic Mexican tacos.

grilled chicken tacos with cilantro pesto and red cabbage slaw | Brooklyn Homemaker

Grilling is an amazing way to get tons of flavor into your food without adding a ton of fat or salt or sugar. Of course, it’s also summer so I’m always looking for an excuse to cook outside. I’m a charcoal man myself, but if you have a gas grill you can add a smoking box with your choice of wood chips to help get that wonderful smokiness into your food.

If you don’t have a grill, or you’re making this recipe six months in the future when your grill is buried under six feet of snow, you can definitely skip the skewers and roast the chicken strips under your broiler. You might even be able to sear them in a heavy skillet, but the pesto may want to stick to the pan rather than the chicken.

grilled chicken tacos with cilantro pesto and red cabbage slaw | Brooklyn Homemaker

Authentic or not, it doesn’t get much better than soft white corn tortillas filled with smoky tender grilled chicken, vibrant summery cilantro pesto, creamy ripe avocado, and crunchy cabbage with biting raw onion and bright tangy lime juice.
Not bad for a gringo eh?

For the best flavor I like to make the pesto ahead and let the chicken marinate in it for a few hours. I’d recommend that you make the slaw ahead too so all the flavors have some time to hang out together and get nice and friendly.

grilled chicken tacos with cilantro pesto and red cabbage slaw | Brooklyn Homemaker

Grilled Chicken Tacos with Cilantro Pesto and Red Cabbage Slaw

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lbs skinless boneless chicken breast
3 cloves garlic
2 cups fresh cilantro, lightly packed
1 jalapeño, sliced and seeded (2 if you like heat)
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of 2 limes, divided
1 to 2 additional limes cut into wedges
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 shredded red cabbage (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1 ripe avocado, sliced
12 to 16 white corn tortillas

Slice chicken breasts into thin strips with a very sharp knife. I find that putting them into the freezer for 30 to 45 minutes beforehand firms them up and makes them easier to slice.

To make the cilantro pesto combine garlic, cilantro, olive oil, juice of 1 lime, salt, & pepper in a food processor and process until completely smooth. Transfer to a large bowl with sliced chicken and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour or two, or overnight if desired.

To make the red cabbage slaw, combine the shredded cabbage, diced onion, and juice of 1 lime in a medium bowl. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour or two, or overnight if desired.

I find that skewering the chicken makes it easier to flip and keeps it from falling through the grill grates. If using wooden skewers make sure to soak them in water for an hour before use so they don’t burn up.

Thread 4 or 5 chicken strips onto each skewer and try to leave as much of the pesto on them as possible. Grill the skewers over a medium to high flame until just cooked through, flipping once. This should only take 4 or 5 minutes per side but that will depend on the heat in your grill. Since the chicken is sliced thin it will dry out if overcooked.
Warm your tortillas over the grill too, just until soft and warm, about a minute per side.

Assemble the tacos with a few chunks of chicken, a sprinkle of red cabbage slaw, a couple slices of avocado, and a squeeze of fresh lime. Serve with additional lime wedges if desired.
I recommend about 3 tacos per serving, 4 if you’re hungry.

grilled lemon herb chicken thighs

So, in case you haven’t already noticed, it’s starting to warm up outside and things are starting to turn green. I’m so into it.

grilled lemon herb chicken thighs | Brooklyn Homemaker

On Sunday we decided it was warm enough to have our first cookout of the year. It wasn’t really, but we were drinking so no one seemed to notice. We gathered some friends, fed them some cocktails, and cooked up a bunch of food over an open flame. We also tried to overlook the fact that I was standing over the grill with a camera while everyone else was enjoying the outdoors for the first time since 2013. In case you were wondering, photographing a grill while smoke pours out can be an awkward task, especially when the wind can’t decide which direction it wants to blow.

grilled lemon herb chicken thighs | Brooklyn Homemaker

I thought the perfect thing for a warm(ish) spring day would be some lemony grilled chicken thighs with plenty of fresh green herbs. I know, chicken thighs again. I’ve already said this, but beyond being affordable, chicken thighs are also really juicy, tender, and flavorful. They also happen to lend themselves perfectly to grilling. I love white meat too, but I sometimes find that breast meat can dry out on the grill if you’re not a really experience griller. Chicken thighs are much more forgiving if you forget them while you’re sipping your drink and accidentally leave them on just a bit too long, or if you’re afraid of undercooking and intentionally leave them on just a bit too long. Either way, they’re going to come out moist and delicious and all your friends will tell you how skilled you are at cooking with fire.

To go along with our chicken, I also grilled some marinated veggie kabobs. A nice mix of grape tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms was just what the doctor ordered. I LOVE the way grape tomatoes get all hot and juicy and just barely hold their shape when you grill them. You can definitely play with other veggies too, but it’s important to keep in mind that they’ll all cook for the same amount of time. Simply cut up your veggies into bite sized chunks (l left my mushrooms and tomatoes whole), marinate for an hour or two, arrange on skewers, and cover until you’re ready to grill. If you’re using wooden skewers you should soak them in water while your veggies marinate so they don’t burn on the grill. As for marinades, I think vinaigrettes work really well for grilled vegetables, but you can really use whatever you like. In this case, I just made a little extra lemon herb marinade and used that.

grilled lemon herb chicken thighs | Brooklyn Homemaker

When it comes to cooking outdoors, I’m a firm believer that charcoal grills give your food MUCH more flavor. Gas grills cook your food, and you’ll be standing outside while it happens, but you’re really not going to get any of that smokey “grilled” flavor. If you have a gas grill at home and want to try to get that smokiness, I’d suggest trying some hardwood smoking chips. Smoking chips usually come in a few different flavors like hickory or applewood, and can be found online or at many grocery or hardware stores. Before using them you need to soak the chips in water so they don’t just burn up. To contain the ash and prevent them from burning too quickly, you can make a pouch for your chips out of aluminum foil, or get one of these handy smoke boxes.

grilled lemon herb chicken thighs | Brooklyn Homemaker

This chicken is seriously phenomenal. So good in fact, that one of our friends who usually doesn’t eat meat went back in for seconds. The skin gets all crispy and golden brown, while the meat stays moist and full of flavor. The marinade completely permeates the meat without being overpowering. It’s savory, aromatic, and earthy thanks to two fresh herbs and a healthy dose of garlic, and the olive oil and lemon juice make it tangy, sweet and bright. These fresh clean flavors are an ideal pairing with the smokiness that comes from cooking with charcoal or hardwood chips. You might not see another grilling recipe for the rest of year, because I’m just going to make this over and over and over. Just kidding! I promise!

grilled lemon herb chicken thighs | Brooklyn Homemaker

Grilled Lemon Herb Chicken Thighs

  • Servings: 5-10ish *see cook's note
  • Print

8-10 chicken thighs
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
zest of 3 lemons
4-5 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon rosemary (finely chopped)
2 teaspoons thyme (finely chopped)
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse Kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper

Wash and dry chicken thighs and place in a shallow dish. Combine all remaining ingredients, mix well, and pour over the chicken thighs. Turn the pieces over and over until they’re all well coated in marinade. Press the chicken down into the dish so it’s as submerged as possible. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4-8 hours, turning the chicken a few times so it’s all well coated.

Once marinated, prepare your grill. A gas grill should be on low heat, or a charcoal grill should be prepared so one side has fewer coals than the other. Place the chicken on the cooler side of the grill, skin side up, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until the underside is golden brown. Resist the urge to pour the marinade over the chicken. Turn each piece over once, cooking for another 10 to 12 minutes, or until the skin is golden brown and the chicken is cooked through. Remove from the grill and let rest, covered with foil, for 5 minutes before serving.

*cook’s note:
You can definitely increase (or decrease) this recipe to accommodate the number of guests you’re cooking for. I’d recommend one to two pieces per person, depending on the size of your thighs, what else you’re serving, and how hungry you think your guests might be.