I like to salt my meat a few hours before cooking, but if pressed for time, this stage can be omitted. The pickled onions can be made the day before serving, and you can keep the liquid in the fridge to be used for pickling another day.
4 pork chops, skin removed, about 1.5cm thick
1 tsp olive oil
Pickled spring onions
1 bunch spring onions with bulbs, tops trimmed
250ml (1 cup) apple cider vinegar
500ml (2 cups) water
250g castor sugar
1 bay leaf
½ tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp sea salt
Lemon garlic sauce
50g stale bread, crusts removed
125ml (½ cup) milk
2 garlic cloves, crushed and roughly chopped
2 tsp lemon juice, plus more if needed
150ml mild olive oil
white pepper, for seasoning
1. The day you plan to cook, take the pork chops from the fridge, pat dry with paper towel and season both sides of each chop with a good pinch of salt. Return the pork to the fridge for up to 6 hours, uncovered.
2. To make the pickled spring onions, place the spring onions in a snug, shallow plastic tray or container. Place the remaining pickling ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. When it reaches a simmer, remove from heat and immediately pour the hot pickling liquid over the spring onions. Refrigerate for a few hours until you are ready to serve.
3. To make the lemon garlic sauce, soak the bread in milk for a few minutes. Squeeze bread to remove excess milk and place in a blender (a stick blender will also work), along with the garlic, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of water. With the blender running slowly, gradually add the oil to emulsify to a smooth paste, stopping from time to time to scrape down the inside of the blender with a spatula. The finished paste should be a mayonnaise-like consistency. When all the oil has emulsified, continue to blend until the sauce is smooth. Add a touch more lemon if necessary and a little more water if it's too thick. Scrape the sauce into a bowl and add a good pinch of salt and white pepper to taste. Set aside.
4. To cook the pork, remove the chops from the fridge and bring to room temperature. Heat the barbecue or a chargrill pan until very hot. Pat the chops dry with paper towel again and rub a few drops of oil onto each chop. Place the pork on the hot grill and move about from time to time to ensure even heat distribution. When the chop has caramelised nicely, flip over; 5-6 minutes in total. Remove from heat and set aside to rest.
5. While the pork is resting, remove the spring onion from the pickling liquid. (Keep the liquid in the fridge to reuse.) Pat dry and place evenly across a cooler section of the barbecue. Take care: if the barbecue is too hot, they will burn quickly. Cook the spring onions for 2-3 minutes or until caramelised, shuffling them about from time to time as they cook.
6. To serve, return the pork to the barbecue for a minute or so to reheat. Serve each chop on a plate with a tablespoon of the lemon garlic sauce, randomly draping a few charred pickled spring onions across the pork. Serve with the remaining garlic sauce.
■ When grilling meat, it's important to bring it to room temperature before cooking for an even and juicy result.
■ Use regular mild olive oil for the sauce. The flavour of extra virgin olive oil will be too strong.
■ If you don't have a blender to make the sauce, a simple wire whisk will do the trick.