The Turn: Mesquite Smoked Pork Chops
Autumn is a lovely time of year. Cooler days and chilly nights. Walking out to the car in the morning, there is a crisp bite in the air, and it just smells better, somehow, because its cold. Geese are on the wing, daily it seems, flying like bomber squadrons overhead, honking as they strafe past, their strong wings whooshing through the chill air. And then there are the leaves. Umpteen billions of them. Golden, and orange, and fiery red; around every corner, down every road – and they quiver and tingle on thin stems in the slightest breeze, quaking there. Waiting to drop. Waiting the turn.
I was cooking supper at the Pond Side Pit the other night, just admiring the autumn scene. Namely the big, old cotton wood there, and how resplendent its leaves looked against a blue, October sky. I don’t know how it is in Texas, or the desert, or even for our friends down there in Ecuador, but autumn in Minnesota is maybe why we all live in here in the first place. It is surreal. Something beautiful to behold every square foot, leastwise in the natural realm. All the trees gussied up so fine, free of that chlorophyll stuff, and my but they look akin to bride’s maids for the Fall.
Supper was some pork chops. Thick-cut of course, for not only are we Patrons of the Pit, but hark, we’re also hungry! So thick-cut it would be. For seasoning we tried some rub our old buddy, TJ Stallings, sent to us. His good friend, O’Neill Williams, of O’Neill Outside came up with some new flavors, and we were lucky enough a hold of some,thanks to TJ. Tonight’s medley of yum is the Wild Game Seasoning, tinted with a light mesquite smoke, and some darn succulent chops. Granted, my pork chops aren’t too wild, but no how, good is good, right, and now wildly good, perhaps, with some of this seasoning. We’ll give it a shot.
As I bandied a pile of orange glowing coals to the side of the little kettle grill for indirect cooking, it dawned on me that my leisurely summer evenings of cooking in the sunlight were coming to a close. The turn was at hand. Where autumn fades to longer nights. If there is a draw back to this fabulous season, at least for a pit jockey, it is the longer nights. Up here in Minnesota, the nights will come on all-too-swiftly in the coming weeks, and before somewhere in December, the nights will last about 14 hours altogether. That just ain’t right. So that means one of two things for a pit keeper. You either make your supper elsewhere, or you grill in the dark. For some reason I cannot completely divine, we’ve always been partial to the latter. Probably the sum result of inhaling one too many smoke plumes off a smoldering hickory log. Aw well.
So as I brought these gorgeous chops to the sultry land of succulence, I couldn’t help but to lavish also in the scant light that which lingered at the pit this night. How the long slants of an autumn sunbeam washed through the fluttering cottonwood leaves, and lit up that blue sky above for just a few minutes more. Indeed, we’ve been blessed. I savored the moments here, pit side, with tongs in hand, listening to the pork sizzle over the bed of coals, and enjoying the radiant heat off the old kettle grill. This was nice, I thought. Very pleasant. Maybe because I knew in the back of my mind that the winter grilling season was right across the way. I mean, I could see it yonder. Just over there, behind that seasonal curtain waiting to drop. Behind those beautiful leaves fixed to fall. But for the moment anyways, and maybe even longer than that, I know that I am grilling in the light, and long may we tarry here in the sweet sun that which fills the day. Amen.
Mesquite Tinted Pork Chops seasoned with O’Neill Outside Wild Game Seasoning on an October Eve swiftly fading. And all the pit jockeys rejoiced!
Ps…If you’re so inclined, we made a little companion video of this pit session to share with you. Another way to see our meat! Yes, we have a you tube channel. And no, we never use it! But it’s there for times like these, even so. Enjoy!
Oh my gravy all over my two scoops rice, DUDE!!! That is SO not fair! Those chops look (on the vid) out of sight and here I STILL sit with no grill. Soon my friend, very soon I too will be beside my grill, in the dark, for yes, in the desert, it gets dark earlier and earlier and leaves change and drift slowly to the grown, as the days go by towards Winter. But have no fear, this is why they make grill lights oh pit master!! ALOHA!
October 19, 2016 at 6:32 pm
Thank ya kindly. They were some juicy, succulent chops , oh desert sister. Great flavor, as only grills can do. Speaking of, hold the faith Auntiedoni, your replacement grill will be here before you know it. And the winter’s menu will be back as it ought. In the mean time, I guess you can just drool on your device whilst you read patrons of the pit!
October 19, 2016 at 9:06 pm
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Lovely looking chops, perfectly cooked. I have a plan to cook some pork cheeks this weekend. They will probably get the sous vide treatment and finished either on the (gas) barbecue or in a cast iron skillet with butter. I’m thinking of an oriental twist to the seasoning but may be swayed by this great work here.
October 20, 2016 at 3:03 pm
Fall, a pitmaster’s favorite time of the year. Cool and comfortable pit side, no pesky bugs, less rain than in spring, and smoke just mingles better on those cool crisp days.
October 21, 2016 at 6:27 am
Mr Dodd! How goes it old boy! Good to see you. And I agree, a marvelous time of year in which to man the flames. Some of the reasons you so eloquently shared. Yeah, I like Fall too. To put on the old, wool smoking jacket and chum up next to the kettle grill, enjoying the heat and the coziness whilst listening to meat sizzle. Its a good life!
Take care, mate!
October 21, 2016 at 8:11 am
That video should be rated R! Not for the first time I have wished that the folks at U-Tube would come up with the technology to include aroma. Probably just around the technological bend.
Stay warm my friend and keep the great grill posts coming.
October 23, 2016 at 8:04 am
I know ! You would think its but a matter of time before the technology nerds come up with the often longed for smelly vision, but for some reason it keeps eluding us. That will be the day tho. And who ever invents it, well, they’ll be eating well the rest of their lives.
Thank you much, John in Ecuador. Great to hear from you as usual.
October 23, 2016 at 8:42 am
Sorry for the slow response. We were busy fishing and entertaining a writer last week. 🙂 Thank you for trying O’Neill’s Spice mix. I hope you enjoyed it! We are enjoying it and the fall weather too.
October 24, 2016 at 9:39 am
It was very tasty, TJ. You’ll have to let your buddy know his stuff is PotP approved! Been enjoying his other spices too. Some real cool flavors. Thanks for thinking of us!
One must never apologize for fishing. You know I understand such things!
Take care, mate
October 24, 2016 at 10:11 am