Storm the Cassoulet

How to make PORK CHOPS

on April 16, 2014

PORK CHOP

(Recipe below)

HINTS:

Pork is Pork is Pork

This is true with all meat and fish, but especially with pork: There is a huge difference in taste between your typical grocery store pork and well-raised, well-fed heritage pork. It’s worth the extra couple bucks. Here’s why.

Boneless is Better

Generally, we like our meat and poultry to be bone-in. There are a couple of reasons: First, it slows down the meat’s cooking, so it gives you a little more leeway to get a good, crispy sear on your chop. Second, the bone gives the meat a richer flavor. Yeah, you should keep that bone in there.

A Little Salt, a Little Pepper

No. A LOT of salt. A LOT of pepper. As with all meat, you want to season that sucker so much that you can see the salt and pepper on the surface when you’re standing a couple feet away. This will make your crust incredibly flavorful—the combination of salt, caramelized meat, and fat will push your chop over the top.

From Fridge to Frying Pan

Let your chops sit on the counter for about 30 minutes before you begin to cook them. If the meat is too cold, the outside will overcook while the inside comes to the right temperature. Giving the pork a little time to warm up will ensure a nice crust on the outside, with a tender center. (Well, if you follow the next few pieces of advice, that is…)

Let That Pan Rip

For chops, we like to get our pan screaming hot…then take it down to medium. That first blast of heat helps get a good golden crust. But, if you keep it that high, the chop won’t cook evenly through the middle. Medium heat helps keep the outer edges of the meat tender while the center reaches the perfect temperature.

Trust Your Recipe’s Cooking Time

With all meat and poultry—but especially pork chops—use your thermometer to tell when the meat is done cooking. A recipe’s timing is usually a ballpark estimate. Cook your chop until it’s around 135 degrees, then transfer it to a cutting board—the residual heat will bring it to the USDA’s recommended 145 degrees. Pork is pretty easy to dry out, so making sure it’s not a degree over 145 is the best way to get juicy, tender meat.

Trim the Fat

Most pork chops have a little layer of fat around the perimeter—take advantage of it! Instead of cutting it off before or after the chop is cooked, stand the chop on its side in the pan with your tongs and get that fat rendered, brown, and crispy. Trust us, you won’t regret it.

Dig Right In

After you get your pork on the cutting board, don’t touch it for 10 minutes. If you cut into it right away, all its juices will run onto the board instead of getting redistributed into the meat. Don’t let all that delicious liquid run away!

PAN-ROASTED BRINED PORK CHOP

Ingredients:

1/2 cup kosher salt

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon juniper berries

1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1 head of garlic, halved crosswise, plus 2 unpeeled cloves for basting

2 large sprigs thyme

1 2-inch-thick bone-in pork chop (2 ribs; about 1 1/4 lb.)

2 tablespoons grapeseed or vegetable oil

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Flaky or coarse sea salt

Preparation:

Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add kosher salt, sugar, juniper berries, peppercorns, halved head of garlic, and 1 thyme sprig; stir to dissolve salt and sugar. Transfer to a medium bowl and add 5 cups ice cubes. Stir until brine is cool. Add pork chop; cover and chill for at least 8 and up to 12 hours.

Preheat oven to 450°. Set a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet. Remove chop from brine; pat dry. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large cast-iron or other oven-proof skillet. Cook chop until beginning to brown, 3-4 minutes. Turn and cook until second side is beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Keep turning chop every 2 minutes until both sides are deep golden brown, 10-12 minutes total.

Transfer skillet to oven and roast chop, turning every 2 minutes to prevent it from browning too quickly, until an instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into center of meat registers 135°, about 14 minutes. (Chop will continue to cook during basting and resting.)

Carefully drain fat from skillet and place over medium heat. Add butter, 2 unpeeled garlic cloves, and remaining thyme sprig; cook until butter is foamy. Carefully tip skillet and, using a large spoon, baste chop repeatedly with butter until butter is brown and smells nutty, 2-3 minutes.

Transfer pork chop to prepared rack and let rest, turning often to ensure juices are evenly distributed, for 15 minutes. Cut pork from bones, slice, and sprinkle with sea salt.

 

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