Taste October 2014
More than any other meat, pork suffers from outdated cooking information. Through mid-2011, the USDA insisted pork chops and roasts should be cooked to 160° F; cookbooks tended to boost that temperature even higher.
The result was dry, tough pork chops frequently served with heavy sauces in an attempt to compensate. Today, the USDA recommends 145° F, followed by a brief rest. Your chops should have a faint rosy blush in the middle, with clear juices and delicious texture.
Loin rib chop
With just one large muscle, this is the sort of tender, flavorful chop you might find in a restaurant. They’re extremely versatile, but pan-searing will give them a delectable crust. Light pan sauces are their classic accompaniments, sometimes making use of sweet produce, such as apples and caramelized onions.
The classic choice for Southern-style braises, these juicy chops are comprised of both loin and tenderloin muscles, similar to a T-bone steak. After a quick sear for extra flavor, they benefit from a 30-minute simmer with broth and hearty vegetables, such as kale and carrots.
These affordable chops are cut from the shoulder, where the meat has both marbling and succulence that loin chops just don’t offer. While cookbooks commonly suggest long, slow cooking, they’re a beloved Midwestern choice for the grill.
Boneless top loin
Dredged and oven-baked, these classic chops were prevalent in the ’70s and ’80s, when the seasoned flour was an attempt at keeping the meat from drying out. It’s critical to not overcook these lean chops, so be sure to use your meat thermometer and check the temperature more than once.
Cut from one of the leanest parts of the loin, boneless sirloin chops are lean, dark and flavorful. It’s best treated like top sirloin beef steaks — marinated, then grilled or pan-fried and sliced against the grain. These slices can then be used in tacos or a well-accessorized sandwich, such as a banh mi or Cuban.
5 pork chop recipes to try
Try these five pork chop recipes — there’s one for every cut we mention above.
We carry fresh pork from Beeler’s, a sixth-generation Iowan farm, and Pure Country Pork, a fifth-generation family ranch in Ephrata, Wash. Both brands are produced without antibiotics. Pure Country Pork hogs are fed a GMO-free diet of locally grown grains and legumes. They were the first pork farmer in the U.S. to enroll in the Non-GMO Project.