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Up Your BBQ Game

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Up Your BBQ Game Photo: California Wine Institute

TASTE News Service, June 29, 2020  -- Editor’s Note:  Taste California Travel obtained the following recipe from Wine Institute, the trade organization representing most of California’s wine industry.

We thought their comments on the use of pork to be insightful. The shoulder chop rub and accompanying nectarine slaw sounded intriguing, and the recipe seemed simple enough to manage.

Wine Institute suggests serving a California Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon with this meal and, while we have no quarrel with those suggestions, we’d like to add a couple of white wine options: a not-heavily-oaked Chardonnay could complement the nectarines in the slaw, as might a Gewürztraminer, which might also pick up on the spiciness in the pork rub. Otherwise, we share their recipe and instructions as they produced them.

“Grill crazy: Weeks of hunkering down indoors have made our backyards look more inviting than ever. Just being outdoors around a table, with a nice meal and a bottle of wine, brings normal life a little bit closer. Pandemic or no, it’s barbecue season, and although you can’t cook for a crowd, you can still wheel out the grill and unleash your inner BBQ chef. Pork shoulder chops are more forgiving than pork tenderloin or loin chops because they’re not as lean. That inner marbling makes them tastier, too, and a garlicky, paprika-laced spice rub infuses them with seasoning all the way through.

“As chefs have been telling us, sustainability means using every part of the animal. Shoulder chops need some extra love because they aren’t naturally tender, but a good spice rub works like a brine to tenderize them. These chops get crusty on the grill, and the spice aroma will make you swoon. Pair them with a colorful, crunchy, California nectarine slaw that may well become your go-to side dish for everything grillable.

“Not a pork person? Use the same rub on lamb shoulder chops or tuna steaks. The lamb will need 8 to 24 hours to benefit from the rub, but for the tuna, 30 minutes will do. When nectarine season fades, switch to pears, apples, or grapes. A slaw for all seasons!”


Grilled Pork Shoulder Chops with Nectarine Slaw

Shoulder chops aren’t as common as loin chops so you may need to ask a butcher to cut them for you. They have more flavor, and this garlicky rub guarantees that they will be a dish you want to make all summer long.  Serves 4



  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, crushed between your fingers
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¾ teaspoon ground fennel
  • ¾ teaspoon paprika
  • 4 bone-in pork shoulder blade chops, about 8 ounces (225 g) each and ½ inch (1.25 cm) thick
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil


  • ¼ cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, or more as needed
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • ½ pound (225 g) green cabbage, cored and very thin sliced
  • ¼ pound (115 g) radicchio, cored and very thinly sliced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1/3 cup (40 g) minced green onion, white and pale green parts only
  • 1/3 cup (40 g) toasted slivered almonds
  • 1 large ripe but firm nectarine, very thinly sliced



In a small bowl, combine all the rub ingredients. Brush the chops on both sides with the olive oil. Sprinkle both sides of the chops with the rub, pressing it into place with your fingers. Place the chops on a rack set over a tray and refrigerate, uncovered, for 8 to 24 hours. Bring to room temperature before grilling.

 Make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, honey, and salt and pepper to taste.

 Prepare a moderately hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to medium-high. 

Make the slaw: In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, radicchio, carrot, green onion, almonds, and nectarine. Toss to mix. Add enough of the dressing to coat the slaw lightly; you may not need it all. Toss gently and taste for seasoning.

 Grill the chops about 5 minutes per side for medium doneness. Let rest 5 minutes to allow the juices to settle, then serve with the slaw.

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