Have you heard the news? The pork chop is getting a makeover, starting with a new name, four new names, to be exact. Whatever pork chops are called now, I've got the recipe for cooking a thick pork chop, turning out juicy, perfectly cooked meat every time.
Pity the poor pork chop, it’s getting a makeover.
Remember when prunes became “dried plums”? And the dolphinfish was renamed “mahi mahi”? The Chinese gooseberry transformed into “kiwifruit”? Rapeseed oil became “canola”? And GORP became “trail mix”?
These foods had genuine name problems and yes, we’ve adjusted. (Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration nixed the Corn Refiners Association’s unconscionable proposal to rename the evil high-fructose corn syrup the wholesome-sounding “corn sugar”. Good move, people, a rose is a rose is a rose.)
But at the risk of appearing ham-ahem-handed, isn’t a pork chop, you know, a pork chop? When I first read the story, I checked the calendar for an April Fool’s dateline.
It’s an industry move. The National Pork Board and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association got together, did some research and decided we consumers are confounded and confused.
So now we’re confronted with new names for four cuts of pork chops:Porterhouse Chops
New York Chops
So hey, anyone find this less confusing than just plain old "pork chops"?
Besides, does anyone else get the idea that while the names are catchy, they're also, well, a little “beefy”? More confusion: USA Today’s story (here) lists the T-Bone chop – the National Pork Board’s press release doesn’t (and here).
Here’s what’s clear and not the least bit confusing. How to cook a thick pork chop, turning out a piece of meat that’s cooked through, juicy and oh-so-flavorful each and every time. We have a freezerful of beef but find ourselves standing at the butcher counter asking for pork – that would be pork chops, please, just plain thick-cut chops.
PERFECT THICK PORK CHOPS
Time to table: 35 minutes
Serves 1, easily multiplied
- 1 thick-cut bone-in pork chop
- Meat rub
- Bacon grease or oil, for the pan
Heat oven to 180F.
Pat the pork chop dry with a double layer of paper towels, really work out the moisture.
Sprinkle both sides generously with meat rub, with your hands, press it into the meat. If you’re prepping in advance, place meat on an uncovered platter and refrigerate for a couple of hours, this helps to remove still more moisture. If it's going to be longer than a couple of hours, cover the meat so that it doesn't dry out too much.
Get out a heavy, oven-safe pan, we use a cast iron skillet on the gas stove, a non-stick grill pan on the glass-top electric which will cast iron will scratch. Rub it with a thin layer of bacon grease or oil. Turn the heat on medium high and let the pan get sizzling hot, you’ll know it’s hot enough when water flicked from your fingers bounces off the surface.
Put the pork chop into the pan and let sear, without moving, for one minute. Yes – just one. Time yourself if you must.
Turn the meat over and put the pan in the oven. Let cook until a meat thermometer reaches 145F – 160F, about 25 minutes. Please know, a cast iron pan seems to hold heat better, the meat may cook slightly more quickly. (Why 145F - 160F? Should Cooked Pork Be Pink?)
Remove the pan and cover with foil for 5 minutes.
ALANNA’s TIPS We use this very same technique with thick-cut steaks too – except that after seasoning the meat, we let it come to room temperature on the counter. Also, beef steaks need only 20 minutes cooking time for rare meat. When the steaks are large, we slice the meat into thin slices, making a single steak serve a small crowd. We’re partial to the meat rubs from Weber, that from two people who rarely purchase spice mixes. Look for a whole range of different rubs in the grocery store's spice section for about $2.50 for 8 ounces, a decent price.
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