Cooking with Bourbon and Chef Michael Symon

Bourbon. It's what's for dinner (along with some pork).

willie-lafiteby willie-lafite

We’re firing up the grill this week in celebration of two of America’s most manly pastimes: Kentucky bourbon and cooking over an open flame. Helping us out is celebrity chef Michael Symon, star of the Food Network’s “Iron Chef America” and ABC’s “The Chew.” Symon, like us, is a big fan of Knob Creek Kentucky bourbon and the new Knob Creek Kentucky rye, and he took a few minutes out of his busy schedule this week (his very manly new cookbook, “Carnivore,” comes out in October) to talk to Mandatory about grilling with bourbon.

“I like bourbon because it’s full and it’s big and it will hold up to pretty much anything you cook with it. … What I like about cooking with bourbon [as opposed to wine or beer], is that you can get a much fuller taste from it. It works fantastic with game, beef and pork,” Symon says. And pork is what’s on the menu here. Symon gave us a recipe for grilled pork chops with orange and jalapeno Knob Creek rye glaze. We’ve also got a perfect summer cocktail pairing in the muddled creek, which combines Knob Creek bourbon with the same citrus flavors featured in our recipe.

“I’m never going to pass up the chance to experiment when it comes to bourbon,” Symon says. “The thing that I love about the [Knob Creek] rye is that it has a natural spiciness to it that works really great with jalapeno and citrus. … The biggest thing is that people should go into cooking with a very open mind, so if you’re someone that loves to drink bourbon, you’re obviously going to love to cook with it, so think about it as a way to take the place of other beverages that you would work into a sauce. It’s very versatile.”

Grilled Pork Chops with Orange and Jalapeno Knob Creek Rye Glaze

Orange and Jalapeno Whiskey Glaze:

1/4 cup Knob Creek rye
1/2 gallon fresh-squeezed orange juice
2 ounces fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 jalapeno, halved with seeds
1 cup brown sugar

Combine ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and saute until reduced by half, for about an hour, and reserve.

Pork Chops (serves 6)

6 bone-in pork chops
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

After letting the chops come to room temperature, brush them with olive oil and season them with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place them on the grill to cook for about 5 minutes per side, or until they reach an internal temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit, basting them with the glaze every minute or so until they start to develop a great, fiery, whiskey-citrus crust. Remove the chops from the grill and let them rest for 5 minutes.

The Muddled Creek

This Knob Creek bourbon-and-citrus cocktail is a refreshing complement to chef Michael Symon’s spicy orange and jalapeno glazed pork chops. In a cocktail shaker, muddle a slice of orange and then add a shot of Knob Creek bourbon, a splash of Triple Sec and ice, and shake until well chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass with ice, toss in a splash of ginger ale and garnish with an orange slice.