I Killed My Pork, Again

The headline above is how one reader got my attention in yesterday's What's Cooking. Below, the details on the pork-y misadventures:

For the life of me I can't manage to cook pork chops correctly. The only time I was successful was when I first coated the chops in eggs and then crumbled up Doritos and then sauted in a pan on both sides. Last night I seared one-inch-thick chops on both sides for about 3 min/side and then put in an oven proof pan with some stock and wine at the bottom, covered with aluminum foil and cooked for an hour at 300. They were definitely cooked through but dry (even though there was plenty of liquid left). What am I doing wrong? What can I do with the leftover two pork chops? What should I do the next time?

Sounds like a case of the overcooked blues, dear. Nothing more serious than understanding that the pork chop, which comes from the loin of the pig, is tender meat territory and as such, requires far less cooking time than your original prescription. Besides, pork is much leaner now than the stuff we grew up on, which means we no longer need to cook the meat for hours to reach a tender state.

The loin is located on the upper back of the pig and covers a large swath, from the back end of the shoulder to the beginning of the leg (ham country). Within this area, there are five chops: the blade chop (from the shoulder end), the sirloin chip (from the hip end) and the trio of "center cuts" -- the rib chop, center loin chop and top loin chop -- which I'm betting is what you had for supper the other night.

So, on your next pork adventure, shave off about 40 minutes from your original cooking time -- think seven minutes on each side on the grill or in the skillet -- plus three or four minutes longer, or until the internal temperature is about 150 degrees. This means a little pink will be showing. Let the chops rest off the heat (cover with a lid or with foil), and their internal temperature will keep rising -- by about five degrees. So instead of an hour, that's about 20 minutes, tops.

For all meat heads, I highly recommend "How to Cook Meat" by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby; it's a terrific resource, with sections on beef, lamb, pork and veal, including anatomy, butcher lingo and tons of recipes.

Meanwhile, if you've got additional pork chop tidbits to share, do so in the comments area below.

By Kim ODonnel |  October 24, 2007; 8:58 AM ET Meat
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When I do boneless loin chops, I cook them in the frying pan on medium heat for 9 minutes total for "normal" thickness (about 1/2"?) or 5 minutes total for "thin-cut". I leave my MIL's in a pinch longer because she actually thinks she LIKES the dried-out texture of overcooked pork ::shudder::

This is with grocery-bought pork though, and Mr. Librarian and I have decided to start buying our meat from a local farmer. I'm wondering if it will change my exacting-science pork timing...

Posted by: librarylady | October 24, 2007 9:25 AM

So will do for modern pork. Trichnosis dies at 135 degrees. There havent been any reported cases of Trichnosis is domesticated products in 40 years. Road kill and wild pigs, boar etc yep for trichnosis. The problem with modern pork is it tastes like the other white meat chicken ie almost no atste at all. Bring back meat with Fat! Fat rules in moderation. Beef, pork and chicken all tastes about the same no taste at all.

No need to cook to 150 degrees.

Posted by: 135 degrees or | October 24, 2007 9:28 AM

Kim, Thank you so much for answering my question! I'm the girl who killed the pork. You can read more of my cooking adventures and see the pictures of the pork in question on my blog http://cooking-shopping-crafts-etc.blogspot.com/

Thanks again!

Posted by: Olga | October 24, 2007 10:55 AM

A former college roomate whose parents were in the restaurant business, made wonderful pork chops. She lightly coated the chops with seasoned flour and quickly browned them in an ovenproof skillet with a small amount of oil. Then the pan went into the oven (325)with a cover or foil.
Add one small can of frozen concentrated orange juice and cook on both sides until done. This also works with other cuts of pork and with chicken. I have also had the butcher cut a pocket in the chops and then stuff it with corn bread stuffing.
This also works well for quantity cooking; just stop before adding the OJ and pick it up later.

Posted by: marthab | October 24, 2007 11:27 AM

Kim and all foodies--I know this isn't the right chat for this question but maybe this could go into next week or a blog? I'm in search of a really yummy recipe for chocolate covered cherries, the candies that have the liquidy center around a cherry? I can't seem to find one that doesn't use parafin. Is there any other substitute that I could use? Could I just melt butter and chocolate chips or something like that? I don't mind if this is a medium-complicated but I also don't have a candy thermometer so if we could find a recipe without that it would be great. I'd really like to make these for my dad this year since it's his favorite candy of all time--this year I'm attempting to bake most of my gifts to people and trying to find recipes for what I'm thinking of making is getting tricky! Thanks so much in advance--I know you all won't let me down. :) Happy halloween!

Posted by: Charlotte for now | October 24, 2007 12:33 PM

Kim,

Thought you might be interested to know that the Senate Ag Committee is marking up the Farm Bill today. A copy of the chair's draft is on their website.

Lots of changes to the food stamp program, including some positive stuff re: EBT at farmer's markets, nutrition ed in states, and pilot nutrition programs.

Posted by: Melissa | October 24, 2007 3:13 PM

Pork chops are one of my favorite meats. I first follow Cook's Illustrated's instructions to brine. Dissolve 3/4 cup kosher salt or 6 TBS table salt and 6 TBS sugar in 3 quarts cold water in bowl or plastic bag and add chops. Refrigerate, turning once, about 1 hour. Remove chops from brine (I briefly rinse) and dry thoroughly with paper towels. Then continue with your recipe.

Posted by: Mary O | October 24, 2007 5:20 PM

http://www.wilton.com/recipes/recipesandprojects/misc/choc_covered_cherries.cfm

There's a more old-fashioned recipe (i.e. forming chocolate cups, etc.) in my Wilton cookbook, but it's at home and I'm not at the moment. This is the jist of it though. I've made "chocolate-covered" cherries with this method, and the only problems I had were finding maraschino cherries with stems and without pits and I had a hard time dipping with candy melts. Good luck!

Posted by: To Charlotte for now | October 25, 2007 8:03 AM

http://www.astray.com/recipes/?show=How%20to%20make%20chocolate%20covered%20cherries

This is hard to read, but it's more like the old-fashioned Wilton recipe.

Posted by: Addendum to "To Charlotte for now" | October 25, 2007 8:05 AM

Thank you so much for the resources!! Can't wait to try them :)

Posted by: Charlotte for now | October 25, 2007 10:43 AM

Actually, Kim, the method that the writer used can work. I've braised pork successfully many times. However, first, you barely want to cook the chops on the stove. Just a quick brown. Then, you really want them to be in an airtight container as you braise, slowly, in the oven. Aluminum foil just doesn't work as well as an All-Clad pan with a well-fitting top. Doing this, I have made some very tender, juicy braised chops. Don't get me wrong, they're very different from sauteed ones, but they turn out very nicely.

Posted by: K | October 25, 2007 12:06 PM

With any method take pork to an internal temp to 138 and rest. Enjoy perfect, tender moistness, every time.

Posted by: Jo | October 25, 2007 12:28 PM

Here's my mom's method-quickly saute pork chops in a lightly oiled pan until brown-about 2-3 minutes per side. Then add water to the pan -about 1/2 inch then cover tightly & reduce to low heat for approximately 5 minutes. Then discard the liquid & serve.

IF you 'd like to make a quick sauce here's my take: add 1 cup of apple cider & 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard (or to taste)to pan, stir well to combine. Simmer uncovered about 5 minutes until sauce is reduced a bit. To make it richer (optional) add 1 tablespoon of butter to the sauce just before serving. To make it thicker (optional) add one heaping tablespoon of cornstarch to a few tablespoons of water to make a slurry then add to sauce & cook a few minutes until thickened. Enjoy!

Posted by: Cindy | October 25, 2007 1:56 PM

Here's my recipe for pork chops:

Create a marinade of the following:

3 tbsps. red wine vinegar
1/3c. olive oil
2 cloves chopped garlic
1/4 tsp. to 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (season to taste)
chopped parsley
chopped thyme

Marinate pork shops for 10 minutes at room temperature. Warm a skillet over medium high heat and place chops in skillet (no need for additional oil) Cook about 5 minutes on each side. These are tender, juicy and delicious, and I use the drippings in the skillet to make a pan gravy.

Posted by: JK | October 26, 2007 11:33 AM

We made these tonight and they were very tender and juicy. Brown 1/2" thick pork chops lightly in olive oil in skillet. Transfer to oven-safe pan. Pour over Italian salad dressing (I used the Ken's brand with Romano cheese), sprinkle with rosemary, salt, and pepper, and smear each chop with minced garlic. Cover tightly and bake for 40 minutes or until chops are just cooked through, remove cover and bake another 10 minutes or until lightly browned on top. I also added chunks of celery and rutabaga - could use any good roasting veggies.

Posted by: GS | January 11, 2008 11:17 PM

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