Barbecue enthusiasts get very touchy when people confuse their craft of slowly melting meat to succulence with the act of mere grilling, that is, slapping protein onto well-oiled grates.
But haute grillmeister Adam Perry Lang honors both techniques in “Serious Barbecue,” a comprehensive yet approachable new book from Hyperion.
Recipes include Spice-Crusted Rib Pork Chops, below, which unfurl smoky, chili-induced heat little by little, and temper it with a touch of honey and lemon.
SPICE-CRUSTED THICK RIB PORK CHOPS
For the brine:
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons boiling water
4 cups apple cider
2 cups cool water
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
4 garlic cloves, minced
Six 1 1/2-inch-thick pork rib chops (8 to 10 ounces each)
For the seasoning blend:
2 tablespoons mild chili powder
2 tablespoons mustard powder
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
For the dressing:
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon honey
1 medium shallot, peeled and finely grated
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 bunch thyme sprigs, bundled
Fleur de sel or kosher salt
Finely ground black pepper
Directions: In a large bowl, combine the red pepper flakes and boiling water. Let sit for 1 to 2 minutes to rehydrate the flakes. Add the cider, cool water, salt, brown sugar and garlic. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Place the chops in an extra-large zip-close plastic bag (or divide between 2 large bags). Pour the brine over the chops, squeeze out any excess air, then seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, or up to 1 day.
When ready to cook, heat one grate of a well-oiled charcoal or gas grill to medium-high and the other to medium-low. To make the seasoning blend, in a small bowl mix together the chili powder, mustard powder, garlic salt, black pepper and cayenne. Set aside
To make the dressing, in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, honey, shallot and garlic. Shake well, then set aside.
Remove the pork chops from the brine, letting any excess brine remain in the bag. Lightly pat dry the chops with paper towels. Sprinkle the seasoning blend evenly on all sides of the chops. Using your hands or a brush, evenly but lightly coat the chops with the canola oil.
Place the chops on the medium-high grate, and grill with the lid open until they are well marked and lightly charred, about 3 minutes. Flip, still over medium-high, to a clean part of the grate, then grill with the lid open for another 3 minutes.
Brush the chops with butter using the thyme bundle. Move to the medium-low grate and close the lid. Open the lid every few minutes, turning and moving the chops as needed. Cook for about 9 minutes for medium, about 12 minutes for medium well, and about 15 minutes for well-done.
Remove from the heat and brush with butter using the thyme bundle.
Give the dressing a quick shake and drizzle about half on a cutting board. Top with the chops and let rest for about 5 minutes. Cut the chops to separate the meat from the bone and slice the meat on a diagonal into 1/4-inch slices, drizzling with the remaining dressing. Sprinkle with fleur de sel and pepper.