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Yes, Virginia, there IS a tender pork chop - help!

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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?

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  1. Try http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/al...

    The comments are helpful (like suggesting to cut the salt to half.)

    1 Reply
    1. re: jaykayen

      That's a good recipe, also with a brine... thanks

    2. 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.

      1 Reply
      1. 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.

        G.

      2. 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.

        1. 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.

          1. 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.

            1 Reply
            1. re: fourunder

              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...

            2. I completely agree with HaagenDazs on the quality of pork you may be using.

              If you can find John Morrell pork, buy it and try it. What a difference in flavor, texture and moisture than "no-name" brands or frozen variety packs.

              Here's a locator link:

              http://www.johnmorrell.com/store_loca...

              3 Replies
              1. re: CocoaNut

                With all respect, John Morrell was not exactly the kind of pork I was referring to. Morrell products are a mass produced, factory farm-type pork that uses the same kind of hog you can find almost anywhere. They are part of the larger Smithfield "umbrella." I'm not saying that they do or don't have an acceptable product, I'm just saying it's not exactly what I meant by "quality pork."

                I'm talking about heritage breeds, legourmettv mentioned it too. There are lots of farms springing up all over the country that are starting to raise these kinds of hogs. Berkshire hogs are by far the best known of these heritage breeds but there are several that are available like Ossabaw, Red Wattle, and Tamworth. To get an idea of what they are about do some internet research - there's plenty of info out there. I suggest you strive to find a local farmer that has this kind of product available but for nationwide delivery, Heritage Foods USA has a respectable business. These aren't for everyday meals necessarily because of the price, but maybe are acceptable for holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.

                http://www.heritagefoodsusa.com/

                1. re: HaagenDazs

                  Thanks for the clarification (altho, I guess sadly, the Morrell product is still superior to what I had been used to buying "off the shelf" in my local area supermarkets).

                  Looks like I will have to do some research as to where to find/purchase the meats you refer. Short of driving to Houston (from the Dallas are) or opening up the wallet for an evening at Craft, the Heritage website doesn't offer any other information and unfortunately, DFW doesn't really give an indie meat man/fish monger much credit or reason to remain open. Thanks again for making me aware of something better tasting and no doubt, better nutritionally.

                  1. re: CocoaNut

                    I know this is an old thread but felt compelled to post after getting off the phone with a John Morrell customer service representative complaining about how they hide the fact that they include a 12% brine solution of sodium lactate, salt and water in their bulk boneless pork loin steaks I buy at Albertsons for $2.99 a pound.

                    Those on salt restrictive diets can't see this because the company prints in black ink on their dark red Morrell label the brine ingredients in tiny lettering where even my 49 year old eyes didn't see it. I wondered why my pork steaks were coming out so salty but quite tender. Now I know why.

                    Other than that I think their steaks taste OK, but only after putting a very thin coating of dijon mustard (to much makes it too salty because of the brine) and a dry rub of ground black peppercorns, smoked ground black pepper, ground cumin, minced dried onions, garlic powder, fennel, sage and rosemary.

                    Makes the bland pork taste like a Monterey rib-eye steak.