One of my favourite summer meals is asparagus and pork chops cooked to perfection on the grill. It’s a fast and effortless meal that is perfect for summer weeknights.
Often I’m happy with nothing more than some salt and pepper; these ingredients are so good in their own right — especially when grilled — they really don’t need much. But when I’m feeling like something a little fancier, I turn to my lemon-truffle vinaigrette, which I affectionately call “truffle lemonade.”
The term was coined one spring when I was teaching a class in Atlanta. After demonstrating and serving the easy vinaigrette, one of my students perked up and said, “This is so good I want to drink it, just like lemonade!”
I’m not sure that I would want to drink it, but it is the perfect complement to grilled asparagus and pork. The mixture of sharp citrus and savory truffle oil is both delicate enough not to overwhelm, yet assertive enough to complement the smoky, caramelized flavours from the grill.
This simple vinaigrette is enhanced with a drizzle of truffle oil and the edges are smoothed out by the addition of a tablespoon of cream — my secret ingredient because it also keeps the lemon juice and the oil from separating. White truffle oil is generally thought to be more flavourful and is more expensive, but black truffle oil works just fine.
If you are like me, you will find yourself making this vinaigrette all spring and summer. It is divine on pork, as in this recipe, but also on chicken, veal, shrimp and all kinds of fish. And don’t be afraid to mix up your vegetables. In addition to asparagus, we added eggplant, cauliflower and zucchini to this recipe.
GRILLED PORK CHOPS AND ASPARAGUS WITH LEMON-TRUFFLE VINAIGRETTE
Start to finish: 30 minutes
1/3 cup lemon juice (about 2 1/2 lemons)
1 teaspoon heavy whipping cream, room temperature
1/3 cup untoasted walnut oil (or olive oil)
1/4 cup truffle-infused oil
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
4 pork chops
1 bunch fresh asparagus
Prepare a grill for direct, medium heat.
To make the vinaigrette, in a medium bowl whisk together the lemon juice and cream. Slowly add the walnut oil and truffle oil a little at a time, whisking until well incorporated. Continue until all of the oil is whisked in. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then set aside.
Lightly brush each pork on both sides with oil. Set aside.
Snap or trim off the bottoms of the asparagus spears. Place the asparagus in a zip-close plastic bag and drizzle in just enough olive oil to coat all the spears. Seal the bag and turn to coat evenly. Open the bag and sprinkle liberally with salt, then reseal the bag and turn to coat evenly.
Just before grilling, season the pork chops with salt. Using tongs, place the pork and asparagus on the cooking grate directly over the heat. Cook the pork, turning once halfway through, for about 6 minutes. Cook the asparagus, turning to cook evenly, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until marked and caramelized. The asparagus should begin to brown in spots, but should not char.
Divide the pork and asparagus between 4 serving plates, topping each portion of pork with asparagus. Drizzle both with the lemon-truffle vinaigrette.
Nutrition information per serving: 530 calories; 380 calories from fat (72 per cent of total calories); 43 g fat (7 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 90 mg cholesterol; 450 mg sodium; 6 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 30 g protein.
Elizabeth Karmel is a barbecue and Southern foods expert. She is the chef and pitmaster at online retailer CarolinaCueToGo.com and author of three books, including “Taming the Flame.”