Mango Habanero Pork Chops and Grilled Veggies

If I can grill a creative and delicious dinner on the fly, then anyone can do it. I love to cook but as a rookie work-from home dad, cooking alongside an impatient toddler can be pretty stressful. Grilling is even more difficult for me than cooking in the kitchen, since I only have about a one-hour window from the time my wife gets home to my son’s bathtime. Trust me… that sleep schedule is not something I want to mess with. Besides the time issue, I’m not necessarily all that experienced on the grill.

But then I remembered that I already got everything I needed at Tuesday Morning just the other day; mango habanero barbecue sauce, sea salt, a 4-pepper grinder and even grapeseed oil. Other than pork chops and a few veggies, it was all I needed to create a great dinner.

The minute my wife got home, I started the charcoal, cleaned and oiled the grates and set up my workspace. I placed my seasonings, tools and a bowl of barbecue sauce on a blue accent table (shown in one of my other posts) and tried to steer clear of the smoke while the charcoal got started in a chimney tower.

Fish was originally on the menu so that I could utilize my new fish grilling basket, but then I decided to try grilling asparagus instead. The small spears would have been too narrow and difficult to handle on the grates alone, but all I had to do was put them in the basket and let them sit on the cooler zone of the grill while I basted and turned the pork chops. I admittedly used a little too much oil since I was trying to photograph an action shot and forgot to stop pouring between shots, and I may have overcooked them to floppy oblivion. Still, my wife agrees that the flavor was excellent. She wolfed them down before I even got a chance to try them myself!

My first attempt at grilling pork chops couldn’t have been easier. I normally like to marinate my meat before cooking, but luckily one of the things thrown in my cart was a basting brush. I haven’t used one in a long time, but painting the chops with sweet, spicy goodness as they cooked was a total blast. I know; I need to get out more.

On a whim and feeling a little cocky, I picked some okra from the garden, tossed it in grapeseed oil, seasoned it with a few cracks of sea salt and pepper, and threw it on the grill. They were tasty, to be sure, but next time I’ll probably cut them in half first to let them get crispier.

When the pork chops were done, the moment of truth had arrived. Dinner was a success! While the okra and asparagus weren’t perfect, the grapeseed oil, salt and pepper really brought out the flavor. The pork chops were tender, and the spicy mango habanero sauce didn’t overwhelm the flavor at all. We gobbled our dinners down and were ready for more. I did have another trick up my sleeve, though.

Almost as an afterthought, I tossed some sweet potatoes directly on the coals and placed a foil-wrapped peach and a clove of garlic away from the coals in the cool zone. I went outside to turn them over every now and then, and in 45 minutes they were ready. I cut the sweet potatoes in half, slicing right through the ashy charred skins to reveal a lava flow of glowing orange. I then topped our sweet potatoes with slivers of the roasted peach, gave it a shake of cinnamon and a crack of sea salt, and served with cloves of garlic as a condiment. We scooped the buttery, creamy flesh out of the garlic skins and mixed it in, and even I was a little surprised at just how well the flavors worked together.
It wasn’t long before I found my wife picking apart the third pork chop, and I got to feed my toddler leftovers of the sweet potatoes the next day. He was very satisfied with the flavor, though he did demand I add cheese.

Here’s a simple recipe that shows you how to cook a whole meal on even a small grill like mine.

Barbecue Pork Chops with Grilled Vegetables

- 3-4 Pork chops, bone-in
- 8 oz Barbecue sauce (I used Mango Habanero)
- ½ lb Asparagus spears, small
- 1 Sweet potato, large
- 1 Bulb of garlic
- 1 Peach
- 4 tbsp Grapeseed oil (or olive oil), divided
- Salt and pepper to taste

Recommended tools
- Charcoal chimney
- Long-handled grill cleaning brush
- Grilling tongs and/or spatula
- Grill basket for asparagus (a fish basket works well)

Prepare asparagus (or other vegetables of your choice.) by rinsing thoroughly, patting dry and snapping off the firm bases. Then toss them in a large bowl or plastic bag with 2 tbsp oil, salt and pepper. Bring them outdoors along with the rest of the ingredients.

Start the grill. If using a charcoal grill; remove the top grate, light wadded up newspaper in a charcoal chimney, place chimney on lower grill grate and wait for the coals to turn gray and stop smoking. While you’re waiting, season the pork with salt and pepper and baste with the oil to prevent sticking.

Dump the hot coals on the right side of the grill to create a hot zone for the meat. Replace the grate and clean with a long-handled grill brush. Once clean, use tongs to place the pork chops on the hot side of the grill. Baste the exposed side of the pork chops once with barbecue sauce and (if using) place the asparagus in the grill basket.

When the pork chops are easily removed from the grate with a spatula (or after 2-3 minutes), flip them over and baste again. Place the asparagus on the cool side of the grill. Continue basting the pork chops for 5 minutes and flip. Flip the asparagus while the pork chops finish cooking. The pork chops will be firm, browned and reach an interior temperature of 145 degrees when done, and the meat should not be pink inside.

When the pork chops and asparagus are done, set them aside and serve. You’re done!

Since grilling isn’t something I get to do very often, I was thrilled to see something at Tuesday Morning that I had been seeking for a long time: Fiestaware pans. I got a Fiesta enameled cast iron grill pan so that I can grill indoors in my busy schedule. I even managed to find Fiesta fry pans in just about every size, which was awesome since I absolutely love the Fiesta saucepan I already own. The small pan will be great for soufflés and lunches for my son, while the larger pan is big enough to handle as many turtle-shaped pancakes and sautéed veggies as our family can eat. And yes, there will be pork chops. Glorious mango habanero pork chops and okra, all on the same spacious pan.

What surprised me most about the dinner was just how easily it all came together. There was hardly any prepwork, no recipes to follow and I didn’t have to do anything in the kitchen. The fish basket allowed me to cook veggies efficiently on a tiny grill, the basting brush made marinating unnecessary and saved me time, and the barbecue sauce, salt and pepper grinders and grapeseed oil were all I needed in the flavor department. I never thought that I could cook a whole meal on my tiny grill in less than an hour, but the right tools and flavors were a huge help.

(This blog post was originally published on Tuesday Morning's blog. I received compensation for the post and the purchases, and all opinions are my own.)

Prices: Featured products: Mango habanero BBQ sauce $4.99 (compare at $6.99); grape seed oil $5.99 (compare at $7.99); four peppercorn grinder $3.99 (compare at $4.99); sea salt grinder $3.99 (compare at $5.99); forged grill brush $12.99 (compare at $29.99); copper fish basket $11.99 (compare at $23.99); Char-Broil acacia basting brush $7.99 (compare at $15.99); 12″ Fiesta fry pan $34.99 (compare at $79.99); 8″ Fiesta fry pan $19.99 (compare at $39.99); Fiesta grill pan $49.99 (compare at $99); mango pot holder $5.99 (compare at $9.99); blue ice pot holder $5.99 (compare at $9.99).

Original Blog Post
Tuesday Morning Page
Store Locator
Email Signup

1 comment:

Please feel free to share your questions, ideas and suggestions!