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Ingredients

Pork chops

Other Names: Bistecca or bistecchine (Italian, sirloin chop), blade chop, butterfly chop, center-cut loin chop, chuleta (Spanish), côte de porc (French), loin chop, michigan (Mexican, butterfly chop), rib chop, sirloin chop (or steak), spuntatura or costarelle (Italian, rib chops), top loin chop.

General Description: Pork chops may be cut from the shoulder, loin, sirloin, or leg and are tender pieces of meat attached to bone. Chops are cuts that are “chopped” through the bone and small enough to serve as individual portions. They are usually grilled, broiled, or pan-fried at high heat. The most tender (and most expensive) pork chops are cut from the long loin, which includes the shoulder end, rib center, short loin, and a portion of the sirloin. Both rib and loin chops are also sold boneless and can be formed into rounded shapes.

The blade or shoulder end of the loin yields loin blade chops (NAMP 1410B), which have more fat and connective tissue than center-cut rib or loin chops. They are made up of several muscles and can be chewy, but are improved by marinating or brining. Butterflied, or split, loin blade chops (NAMP 423) are inexpensive as well as versatile; they are equivalent to country-style ribs.

Don’t confuse loin blade chops with shoulder blade chops or Boston butt steak (NAMP 1406-1407), which are somewhat tougher cuts from the adjoining upper shoulder portion known as the Boston butt. Shoulder blade chops and shoulder arm chops or steaks, which are cut from the picnic or lower arm portion of the shoulder), have full-bodied flavor, though they are relatively tough and fatty, or they are best braised.

Rib chops (NAMP 1410A) have a large eye with the rib bone attached; loin chops (NAMP 1410) include the T-bone and portions of both the loin and tenderloin. (The amount of tenderloin increases toward the back end.) Rib chops are ideal for stuffing. Loin and rib chops are great to grill, broil, or pan-fry. Loin sirloin chops (NAMP 1410B) come from the loin toward the rear and have more bones than rib chops, but are also tender and flavorful. They are well suited to brining or marinating and should not be overcooked because they can dry out.

Part of Animal: Pork chops may be cut from the rib, loin, shoulder, forearm, or hind leg.

Characteristics: The most tender and expensive chops come from the loin and rib sections along the back of the pig. Rib chops have more fat, so are less likely to dry out. Shoulder chops have more bones and connective tissue. Loin chops have a large single-muscle eye and less fat. Sirloin chops are relatively tender and lean. Leg chops are lean and can be dry and somewhat tough.

How to Choose: Pork chops should be 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick. An end-cut chop, from either the shoulder end or the sirloin end, will have more gristle.

Amount to Buy: Individual chops weigh 6 to 8 ounces. Allow one chop per person.

Storage: Store pork chops up to 2 days refrigerated; 3 days if oiled or marinated.

Preparation:

  1. Trim off excess fat. For better flavor and juiciness, brine chops as follows: Combine 2 quarts hot water and 1/2 cup kosher salt or 1/4 cup table salt with 1/2 to 2 cups sweetener. Add spices and seasonings as desired, then stir to dissolve salt. Cool liquid to room temperature. Submerge the chops in the brine for 4 to 6 hours refrigerated.
  2. Drain and pat dry, then grill, pan-fry, or broil until slightly pink in the center, 150 to 155°F.

Flavor Affinities: Apple cider, brown sugar, coriander seed, fennel, honey, molasses, mustard seed, peaches, vanilla.

from Quirk Books: www.quirkbooks.com