Yes, Virginia, there IS a tender pork chop - help!
- woodburner Dec 8, 2008 03:29 PM
My pork chops are never particularly tasty or tender... even when they come off the grill at 140 or so to rise to mid 140s-150. (Ribs, pork butts, briskets, chicken and sausage are another story...)
Remembered someone talking about slow cooking chops with kraut, apples, onions, some brown sugar, for several hours, and they would be fall-apart tender and tasty. Tried it, and it worked ok. But I know it can be better. Can anyone share specifics for what I guess is a German recipe for a potful o' pork chops?
Brine them! I can't help with German recipes, but brining is how I've transformed those lean, chewy supermarket pork chops into something else. Use apple cider (or juice), or use cider vinegar, with spices of your choosing. Maybe allspice, black pepper, mustard... Two hours in the brine should be plenty. Throw 'em on the grill and you won't believe grilled chops can be so tender.
The braised pork chops sound pretty tasty too. I'm not sure I've ever used a braising/slow cooking method on brined meat before. I don't see why it wouldn't work.
re: Agent Orange
I do the slowcooker / kraut / apple/ onion recipe every now and then; I've even done a video recipe on my website for this.
I have found that the real problem is "Supermarket" pork. It all seems to be uniformly dry and tasteless... which has led me to find pork from small family farms that raise heritage breeds of swine.
The meat is much more tender, and the flavour... well it has flavour! You can also start to tell different breeds by their flavour. Analogous to a side by side comparison of Kobe beef Vs a steak on styrofoam from Loblaws (or safeway, sobey's, tops, piggly wiggly, harris teeters - or any other supermarket chain that gets meat from huge factory producers).
You can add flavour to the meat, and make it tender with a slow braise and even a brine beforehand; but why not start with better meat in the first place? It really isn't that hard to find, most cities have a renaissance of hand butchers happening, and small towns should have an even better source.
You are cooking them too long. Pork can be eaten with a slightly pink center. With that said, I get big thick Iowa chops, cut a slit and stuff them with a saute of onions, rehydrated dried cherries (plums would also be good) cubed bread and thyme. Sear them, then throw them in the oven, serve with a pan sauce of brown sugar, rum and the drippings. Pork done this way is still moist even if cooked white like you are doing it.
Quality of the pork you buy might be an issue as well. It's not your fault though; unfortunately, major grocery store variety pork has been bred and bred and bred to be as lean as it can be. There's little to no intramuscular fat on the things anymore and as a result you often get dry, tough pork chops no matter what temp you cook them to.
My suggestion would be to read about the many varieties of pork out there, the most "foodie famous" right now being the Berkshire hog, and seek out a local source for it and try it out.
I agree with others that brining the pork is the obvious answer for more tasty flavor. For tenderness, I would suggest you also use thicker chops at a minimum of one inch thickness and not cook as long if you are using a high heat method.. You may want to consider searing the meat and finishing in the oven to reduce the chance of over-cooking.
For slow cooking, braising pork chops for several hours is not a good idea and a recipe for tough meat in my opinion. Instead, I would slow roast a Rack/Rib Roast @ 225* for about 2.5 hours for a very moist, tender and flavorful dinner. Once sliced.....you have your pork chops.
We're talking about tenderness, in my opinion. Grocery store pork chops are just going to be bland no matter what... The original poster said that they cook the chops to finished temperature of about 140-150 degrees, so overcooking isn't really a problem here, although I would recommend cooking closer to 140 than 150!
Braising pork chops is a very effective way of getting succulent tender pork chops. Maybe not for several hours, because that's just going overboard but braised pork chops are very, very good.
And for this recipe you don't even need the thicker, more expensive cut chops, just grab the cheap as dirt variety pack out of the cooler case. Try this recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/em...