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Kick off summer grilling season with the other white meat

Chipotle-lime marinated grilled pork chops

With Memorial Day behind us, we can look forward to the official kick off to warmer weather, summer picnics and grilling season.

"South Dakota pork is an ideal partner for the grill, thanks to its versatile flavor and easy preparation," said Stacey Sorlien, program and communications director for the South Dakota Pork Producers Council. "By mastering a few simple techniques and experimenting with new flavor-boosting recipes, rookies and home chefs alike will be well on their way to becoming VIPs on the grilling scene," Sorlien said.

In addition to pork's flavor versatility, Sorlien said it is also a nutritious mealtime option. Pork contains many of the nutrients recommended by health organizations to build and maintain a healthy body, including six essential vitamins, four important minerals, protein and energy. She said pork's lean meat serves as an excellent source of thiamin, vitamin B6, phosphorus and niacin, and a good source of riboflavin, potassium and zinc.

Additionally, a study released in 2006 by the USDA reveals seven common cuts of fresh pork are leaner today than they were 15 years ago -- on average about 16 percent lower in total fat and 27 percent lower in saturated fat.

For a sizzling season that's full of perfect pork on the grill, South Dakota pork experts offer the following grilling tips:

-- Marinate for flavor. Marinades typically consist of three key ingredients: an acid (such as vinegar or fruit juice), an oil (such as olive oil or Italian dressing) and herbs and spices. Shoppers can choose from store-bought selections or create their own at home. For even distribution, place chops and marinade in a re-sealable plastic bag or covered container and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 12 hours before grilling.

-- Rub it in. Without any liquid, the punch packed into a rub stays with the meat. The flavors of a few crushed spices rubbed over the meat will unite in just 30 minutes and cook to a tasty crust on pork cuts.

-- Watch your tail. When grilling with pork tenderloin, one end will be thinner than the other -- almost like a tail. To keep the tail from overcooking, fold the end over and tie it with some household string. Many cooks also cut it off for use in soup or stews, or place the thin end over a cooler part of the grill.

-- Cook to medium. For juicy and tender grilled pork, cook to medium doneness over direct heat. Use a meat thermometer to judge doneness -- 145 degrees F with a 3 minute rest time for perfect, slightly pink-on-the-inside pork.

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4 porterhouse (bone-in loin) pork chops, about 1-1/4 inch thick

1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, chopped or 1 dried chipolte chile, rehydrated* and minced **

2 teaspoons oregano

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2/3 cup lime juice

1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt


Place chops in a large self-sealing plastic bag; combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl and pour over chops. Seal bag and refrigerate for 4-24 hours.

Remove chops from marinade (discarding marinade) and grill over medium-hot coals for a total of 12-16 minutes, until internal temperature on a thermometer reads 145 degrees Fahrenheit, followed by a 3-minute rest time.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Marinating Time: 4 hours

Servings: 4

*To rehydrate, cover chile with hot water for 10 minutes, let stand at room temperature. Drain and use as directed. Seed chile, if desired, to reduce piquancy a bit.

**Always wear rubber gloves when handling hot chiles.


Cook to 145 F with 3 minute rest time

Serving Suggestions

Bring the flavor of the Southwest to your grill with these chops. Serve with red beans and rice and Cheesy Calico Corn Custard.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 290 calories

Protein: 39 grams

Fat: 14 grams

Sodium: 370 milligrams

Cholesterol: 105 milligrams

Saturated Fat: 2 grams

Carbohydrates: 2 grams