Napa Valley. Oh the visions it can bring to mind. Long lazy roads and green and brown hills covered with trees and grass. Fields of grape trees and arbors laden heavy with grapes juicy and ready to give up their nectar. Wine flowing in covered and shady tasting rooms and patios and the smell of wood grills cooking meats and vegetables fresh form local farms and fields.
Grilling really is a singular smell there with all the apple wood casting it's scented purfume through the air. It fills every corner of the small towns around dinner time and really makes one hungry for meat. Yes that's right wine and meat is a very good combination. Tasty to say the least.
I recently visited Napa with my brother and sister in law and we had a really amazing time. We ate lunch at the famous Rutherford Grill and then went to a private tasting at Hall vineyards where we were treated to samplings of many of their delicious and richly aged wines. Very good indeed. And after picking up some wine to go we traveled back towards the San Francisco area and stopped just inside of Napa at Mustards Grill for dinner.
Now I had eaten at Mustards many years ago and had the opportunity to try their signature dish. So when I heard we were going to Mustards I announced to my Brother and Sister in Law that I had been there before and remembered how good the Pork chop was, In fact I said I remember it being really good. Well funny to see upon arrival that the pork chop is the most famous thing on the menu. And they have served over a million. And there is a reason for this. Because it's amazingly good! What's particularly good are the asian spices used to make the chop's marinade and the sauce all mixed up with traditionally western flavored side dishes like red cabbage and mashed potatoes.
I loved this dish also because of the name. For me it conjures up memories of "Mongolian BBQ" as form of cooking done at restaurants of the same name. As a boy my family did a lot of things offered on the bases as entertainment. One of the rare treats was when we would go to the Mongolian BBQ night at one of the local officers clubs. There you would select your meal from a cold food bar, meat veggies etc. Then you would carry it to a cooking station where it was cooked atop what looked like a metal kettle drum the size of an oil barrel with fire under it.
This pork chop recipe is perfect for your up coming bbq season. It's not mine but I mean to own it! Try it and be inspired!
CHINESE-STYLE MUSTARD SAUCE:
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup mustard powder, such as Colman's
- 2 egg yolks
Mongolian Pork Chop from Mustards Grill
- Six 10-ounce center-cut double pork chops
- 1 cup hoisin sauce
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves and stems, minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons black bean chilesauce, such as Lee Kum Kee
- 1 1/2 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
- 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 1 scallion, white and two-thirds of the green parts, minced
- Braised red cabbage and mashed potatoes, for serving
- Trim the excess meat and fat away from the ends of the chop bones, leaving them exposed. Put the pork chops in a clean plastic bag and lightly sprinkle with water to prevent the meat from tearing when pounded. Using the smooth side of a meat mallet, pound the meat down to an even 1-inch thickness, being careful not to hit the bones. Alternatively, have your butcher cut thinner chops and serve 2 per serving.
To make the marinade, combine the hoisin sauce, cilantro, soy sauce, sherry vinegar, rice vinegar, oil, sugar, black bean chile sauce, ginger, garlic, hot sauce, pepper and scallions in a bowl and mix well. Coat the pork chops liberally with the marinade and marinate for 3 hours, or up to overnight, in the refrigerator
Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Place the chops on the grill for 5 minutes on each side, rotating them a quarter turn after 2 or 3 minutes on each side to produce nice crosshatch marks. It's good to baste with some of the marinade as the meat cooks. As with all marinated meats, you want to go longer and slower on the grill versus shorter and hotter, because if the marinated meat is charred, it may turn bitter. The pork is ready when it registers 139 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.
Serve the pork chops with braised red cabbage and mashed potatoes. Offer Chinese-Style Mustard Sauce on the side for dipping.