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Recipe: Chesapeake Style Pork Chops

The predominant flavor of the Chesapeake region is Old Bay Seasoning. It’s a secret blend of herbs and spices that was developed in the 1940s. Used primarily to season crabs, it has become a flavor that to my mind epitomizes the steamy summers and incredible bounty of the region.

It is equally welcome on fresh-sliced, summer-ripe tomatoes, French fries, and meat as it is on seafood. In this recipe I season pork chops with the spice and slowly grill them to seal in the moisture. Really it’s not any more complicated than that.


Pre-heat a charcoal or gas grill and push all of the coals to one side. Season the pork chops with Old Bay Seasoning and allow to sit for at least ten minutes for the flavors to be absorbed. Place the chops directly over the coals and cook for two minutes. Remove the chops to the coolest part of the grill and cover the grill to capture the heat and slowly roast the meat.


While this is cooking I like to grill up some peaches, which are a perfect foil for the chops. Cut a few peaches in half and remove the pit. Brush with oil and place over the coals. Cook for about 10 minutes or until they are deeply caramelized and tender but not falling apart. The chops should take about 12 minutes to cook per inch of thickness, depending on the heat of the fire.


Serve with your favorite sides, such as cole slaw, potato salad, grilled onions, or whatever you like best.

Menhaden

One of the great curiosities of our modern world is why we feed fish to chicken and pigs. I have never in my life seen a pig go fishing, nor have I even heard of such an account. We take perfectly good fish and grind it up to feed to animals that simply should not be eating them. In the case of Menhaden, a fish that humans do not eat, directly at least, they are a major part of the marine ecosystem and are dinner for countless species, which by natural order do eat fish. When we take sea life from the ocean, we are taking dinner from something else. All marine creatures have two purposes: to eat and be eaten.

This indiscriminate use of ocean life is avoidable. When I cook meat, I always look for a product that has been fed a vegetarian diet. I also look for products that are free of antibiotics and growth hormones, but that is a story for another episode.

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Ocean Topics

Barton Seaver, Chef/Conservationist

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    Barton Seaver is a chef who has dedicated his career to restoring the relationship we have with our ocean. It is his belief that the choices we are making for dinner are directly impacting the ocean and its fragile ecosystems.

Watch Barton's TED Talk: Sustainable Seafood? Let's Get Smart »

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    Freshwater Initiative

    The National Geographic Society’s freshwater initiative is a multi-year global effort to inspire and empower individuals and communities to conserve freshwater and preserve the extraordinary diversity of life that rivers, lakes, and wetlands sustain.