I have a complicated relationship with pork chops. Sometimes I get them just right, sometimes they come out tough and dry, and sometimes they are still raw on the inside and everyone gets trichinosis and dies. THOSE DAYS ARE OVER
Lately I have subscribed utterly to the following school of Meat Thought: Sear the meat in a hot pan, finish cooking the meat in the oven, and then let it rest in foil for 5–10 minutes before serving. This works beautifully almost always! I’ve even done porkchops pretty nicely this way.
This weekend we bought nice porkchops from Whole Foods: 1.5 inch thick center-cut bone-in pork chops (two for the low low price of $15*… christ). So I wanted to treat them right, you know? A few arduous searches on the internet later revealed that in March of 2009, Cooks Illustrated made thick-cut porkchops using an apparently absurd technique (the reverse of the familiar method): Start the meat in a warm oven, sear it, and then rest it.** Since I don’t have a Cooks Illustrated subscription, I had to basically make it up, but the necessary clues were in CI’s food science preamble. Whether or not I got all the details right, these were the best porkchops I have ever made. So wonderfully porky, they were!
Thick-cut porkchops with blueberry pan sauce
- 2 thick cut (at least 1.5 inches thick) bone-in porkchops (I used center-cut, but loin-cut is possibly even better)
- 1 sweet white onion (such as vidalia)
- blueberries (one clamshell package-thing)
- a combination of dried thyme, sage, rosemary, and/or oregano
- sweet/sour deglazing liquid (I used a combination of white wine vinegar, bourbon, and water)
- juice of half a lemon (we had Meyer lemons on hand because we are pretentious Northern Californians)
- salt and pepper
- whole grain mustard (optional/not optional)
Score the outer fat and silverskin of the porkchops with a knife, being sure not to cut into the meat itself. Dry the meat well with paper towels, rub generously all over with salt and pepper (especially salt the fat! it is the best part omg), and let the chops sit at room temperature for 30–60 minutes (during which time you can make the side dishes below!).
Preheat your oven to 275˚F and set a rack (grease this, or the chops *will* stick) over a shallow roasting pan. Place the chops on this rack, and put it in the oven for 30–45 minutes (I aim here for a meat temperature of 120˚F, with the final result just over medium-rare).
Heat very little oil in a skillet on medium high (or do what I do and grease the pan with oil so that there is no excess), and sear your chops on each side for around 2 minutes being sure to (1) not move them so they develop a nice crust and (2) swirl the pan occasionally to allow the rendered fat to slide under the chops (the pork should be 140˚F for medium-rare on the medium side, its temperature will continue to rise during rest). Sear the edges of the chops also, but these need much less time. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil to allow the meat to rest for 5–10 minutes.
For the sauce, lower heat to medium, pour off all but 1 tablespoon of grease (or don’t; lard is delicious), and cook the onions until browning. Deglaze the pan as you like, and add the blueberries. Once these are beginning to burst and get all sticky, add the herbs, salt, and pepper to taste, along with the lemon juice (also to taste; I like it tart). Add water if things get too sticky, reduce more if the sauce get too thin. You know the drill.
Serve the porkchops with blueberry sauce over, and a nice dollop of whole grain mustard at the side.
Twice-cooked marble potatoes
- something like 30 marble (round baby Yukon) potatoes
- 4–5 cloves of garlic, coarsely minced
- garlic olive oil (or just olive oil)
- dried or fresh thyme and/or rosemary
- salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 300˚F (or just hold it at 275˚F if you make the chops as above). Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and boil the taters for 15-20 minutes (you want them knife tender, but maybe not fork tender). While the potatoes are still hot (but cool enough to handle uncomfortably), slice them in half and toss them with the oil, garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper. Let them cool to room temperature! Throw them in the oven (after the chops are out) and taise the oven’s temperature to 400˚F. Take ‘em out when you like, but the idea is that they are crispy outside and creamy inside. Also garlic. Garlic is also part of the idea.
I also made honey-butter glazed carrots, but I’m out of time and you can figure out how that went yourself! It ain’t hard.
You want a pinot noir with this meal. I’d say Oregon or somewhere colder in California (we had a 2007 Silver Mountain from the S. Cruz mountains, with lots of vanilla and floral notes).
* These porkchops tasted (almost surprisingly!) like pork. I think the curing stage in CI’s method definitely added to this porkiness, so I am not sure how much was Whole Foods and how much was The Magic of Salt.
** I have since been told that this technique is also frequently applied to ribs (though I imagine you finish them on the grill, not in a pan).