Grilled Red Wattle with Apples, Onions and Sage

Thick-cut, locally pastured Red Wattle pork chops are marinated overnight in fresh apple juice, garlic, sage, sea salt and black pepper, then grilled over an open wood fire to medium doneness.  The tender, moist chops are served with a glaze of caramelized onions and apples with a side of roasted baby Brussels sprouts with croûtons..

“The Red Wattle hog is a large, red hog with a fleshy, decorative, wattle attached to each side of its neck that has no known function.  The origin and history of the Red Wattle breed is considered scientifically obscure, though many different ancestral stories are known.  One theory is that the French colonists brought the Red Wattle Hogs to the United States from New Caledonia Island off the coast of Australia in the late 1700’s.  As they adapted well to the land, the Red Wattle quickly became a popular breed in the US.

Unfortunately, as settlers moved west, the breed began to fall out of favor because settlers came into contact with breeds that boasted a higher fat content, which was important for lard and soap.  Red Wattles were left to roam the hills of eastern Texas, where they were hunted to near extinction, until Mr. H.C. Wengler came across a herd in the dense forest and began breeding them into what they are today. Five year later, in a similar incident, Robert Prentice located another herd of Red Wattle hogs, which became known as the Timberline herd, after its wooded origins in eastern Texas…

Red Wattle pork is exceptionally lean and juicy with a rich beef-like taste and texture.”  –Slow Food USA

3 thoughts on “Grilled Red Wattle with Apples, Onions and Sage

  1. Ren, our son is flying in from LA for a week and is on the paleo diet. Thankfully we have plenty of great pastured pork and beef in the freezer. Would love to use this recipe. Could you post the recipe with instructions? Thanks!
    Also, are there others you can recommend? You do amazing things with food!

    1. Thanks, Diana!

      The glaze and croûtons aren’t paleo, but here’s an easy, tasty way to prepare the pork that should fit the bill.

      Hope you like it!

      Grilled Pork Chops (serves 4)

      4 1-1/2-inch thick pastured pork chops (bone-in preferred)
      4 cups filtered water
      1 cup fresh apple juice (or cider w/o added sugar)
      2 oz (by weight) sea salt (see note)
      6 cloves garlic, smashed
      2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
      1 handful fresh sage, bruised (substitute 1-1/2 tablespoons rubbed sage)

      Bring the water to a boil, remove from heat and add the salt, stirring until dissolved. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.

      Add the remaining ingredients (except pork chops) and stir to combine.

      Arrange the pork chops in a 9’x9′ glass casserole dish (or other suitably-sized, non-reactive container).

      Pour the brine over the chops, wrap the dish and refrigerate overnight or up to 18 hours. The flavors of the apple juice, garlic, sage and pepper will be carried by the brine deep into the muscle, as will some of the water and salt itself. Properly cooked, the result should be very moist and flavorful.

      Remove the chops from the refrigerator and discard the brine. Pat the chops completely dry and allow to come up to room temperature as you prepare the fire.

      Grill the chops for 4-5 minutes on each side over high heat, then transfer to the cooler side of the grill and continue to cook until very slightly pink on the inside.

      Transfer the chops to a platter, cover loosely with foil and allow to rest 10 minutes before serving.

      Note: you can vary the amount of liquid in the brine if you need more (or less) – simply maintain a 20:1 ratio of liquid-to-salt.

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