Thick-cut pork chops, simply seasoned and grilled to tender perfection. Serve these Peppercorn Garlic Pork Chops with grilled veggies for a complete meal.
This recipe was featured in the July, 2017 issue of Stillwater Living Magazine.
When I was a kid, summer was the time for long lazy days. We spent almost every waking minute at the neighborhood pool, which was about a quarter mile from my house. Every day was the same, and I honestly never knew what day it was until I got home and saw what was on TV.
My mom didn’t like turning on the oven during the day, because it was so hot outside. We also didn’t have a grill. That seems kind of crazy now since everyone seems to have one, but looking back I don’t recall my friends having one either. So we usually didn’t eat dinner until after 9PM. My parents still do that regularly in the summer. Whenever I visit them or they come to Stillwater, I insist that we won’t eat that late. And then somehow, we never eat before 8PM. I guess old habits die hard.
One of my first purchases when I bought a house was a grill. I don’t use it as much as I originally thought I would, but I love the versatility the grill provides. My grill sits under the overhang on my patio, so I use it year-round. Of course I use it most often during the summer, but I will occasionally brave the elements to grill in the winter.
My dad is allergic to pork, so I don’t recall my parents ever cooking it. However, I’ve always been a fan of pork chops. The problem I often encountered, though, was they got dry very quickly. It was partially operator error, because I used thin-cut chops and cooked them too long. Dry pork chops are just as bad as dry chicken breast, and there’s not much you can do to revive them. Over time I switched to thick-cut chops, and now they’re perfect nearly every time.
During the winter I usually coat pork chops in a crispy crust and bake them in the oven. The coating helps to retain moisture, and every bite is so tender and juicy. But in the summer I take advantage of the grill. Rather than my usual simple marinade of olive oil and garlic, I wanted to kick it up a few notches so I created Peppercorn Garlic Pork Chops
On my first attempt at Peppercorn Garlic Pork Chops I marinated the pork chops in olive oil, slit little holes in one side, added cloves of raw garlic, and let it marinate for about 4 hours. They were good, but the color was bland and they didn’t have enough garlic punch. I also used whole peppercorns, and I had to pull them off before I could eat the pork.
The next time I used roasted garlic. If you haven’t used roasted garlic, you are missing out. The garlic gets golden brown and so sweet, you could almost eat it straight. I smeared the roasted garlic on both sides of the pork, and seasoned them well with coarse sea salt and ground peppercorns.
I let the chops sit for about 30 minutes, seared them in a skillet with melted butter, and then cooked them on the grill. If you don’t have a grill, or it’s too cold outside, a grill pan is a perfect substitute.
Look at that gorgeous color! The roasted garlic adds so much flavor. And I seared the Peppercorn Garlic Pork Chops in real butter. I used to just use spread or cooking spray, but butter adds an incredible flavor and silky texture you don’t get otherwise. Plus, butter helps to create the golden brown color. You don’t have to use much, and sometimes it’s just worth it.
Dipping Sauces for Peppercorn Garlic Pork Chops
The Peppercorn Garlic Pork Chops have so much flavor on their own, but it never hurts to add more. I made a balsamic honey reduction the first time I made the Peppercorn Garlic Pork Chops, to make up for the lack of color. I did it the second time as well, assuming I would need it. Even though I didn’t, I used it for a very flavorful dipping sauce. I also prepared chimichurri sauce as another dipping option.
The balsamic honey reduction is so simple, and when you use high-quality ingredients it tastes even better. I discovered Lucero balsamic vinegar a couple of years ago, and have never looked back. It’s a little more expensive than regular store-bought, but well worth it for the wonderful deep flavor. I also use raw honey. It doesn’t have the after-taste that you get from regular honey, and when you buy raw, local honey, it is better for you.
You can’t have Peppercorn Garlic Pork Chops without vegetables, so I decided to grill a variety of vegetables on the side. I seasoned them simply with salt and pepper, then drizzled them with oil. I discovered Avocado Oil a few months ago, and love the silky texture it adds to food. FYI, both of the dipping sauces work great with grilled vegetables too!
I always worry when I grill vegetables that they’ll fall through the grates. I did really well, until I thought to myself that I did well…then I lost a lemon slice. But that was the only casualty.
We ate a ton of leftovers growing up, and once I moved out on my own I swore them off. I will eat leftover pizza and Chinese food, but that’s about it. And when I cook, I do just enough for one meal. I ate one of the Peppercorn Garlic Pork Chops immediately. I also literally danced around the kitchen because it was so good! The other one, I ate the next day for lunch. I was concerned it might get dry in the microwave, but I used the reheat setting, and it was just as tender and juicy as the day before.
Peppercorn Garlic Pork Chops will definitely be on my regular meal plan throughout the year. When it’s too cold to grill outside, I’ll use the grill pan instead.
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- 2 thick-cut, bone-in pork chops (about 3/4")
- coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 8 garlic cloves
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- vegetables, for grilling
- avocado oil/olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons raw honey
- 2 Tablespoons high-quality balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup fresh, flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup diced red onion
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh oregano
- 2 cloves raw garlic, peeled
- 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 Tablespoons avocado oil or olive oil
Peel garlic cloves, and put on piece of aluminum foil. Season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with oil. Close tightly, and put into 400 degree oven for 50 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven, open foil, and let cool for 5 minutes
Season both sides of pork chops liberally with salt and pepper
Smash roasted garlic, and smear liberally on both sides of pork chops. Let sit for 30 minutes
Cut vegetables into thick slices. Season both sides with salt and pepper, and drizzle with oil
Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Remove any garlic skin from pork chops, and add to skillet. Sear on both sides, for about 3 minutes per side
While pork chops sear, heat grill to medium/high heat. I use a gas grill, and heat to 375 degrees
Spray grill with cooking spray or oil spray, to prevent sticking. Add pork chops to grill over direct heat. Cook for about 8 minutes per side, until chops get that beautiful golden color
Add vegetables to grill, and cook until they reach desired level of done. Thicker vegetables should go over direct heat, while more delicate vegetables should go over indirect heat
When pork chops are done, remove from grill and set on plate to rest. Allow chops to rest for about 5 minutes, so juices redistribute
In small saucepan, combine balsamic vinegar and honey. Reduce over low heat until it reaches a thick consistency. If left too long, or over too high heat, it will burn
In food processor, combine all chimichurri dry ingredients. Pulse a few times until chopped, and then drizzle in oil until it reaches desired consistency. Don't over-process, or it will become too thin and runny
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