Thursday, June 2, 2011

Where No Recipe Has Gone Before (Around Here Anyway...)

Good evening everyone! Tonight, we’re going where our blog has never gone before. We’re diving into a food group that, up until this point, has been ‘banned’ from the blog. If you’re a regular reader, you might already know what this banished food group is. For those still guessing, the answer is pork. Outside of bacon (which, for the blog purposes is almost always turkey bacon – thereby not a pork product) pork products have not made much of an appearance on the blog to date.

The reason for this is simple. I don’t like it and it doesn’t like me. Growing up, I remember grudgingly chewing threw pork chops or ham steak. I hated the salty ‘off’ flavor that most pork gave and I detested the texture. In addition, pork didn’t seem to like me. Anytime I had some variant of pork product, I would suffer through monster stomach cramps and an all around level of discomfort.

So, once I became an adult, pork was banished from my menu. I would never have to eat the disgusting product again. Just like peas, pork would become a member of the persona-non-grata club. Tyler -1, pork – 0

Once again, astute blog readers will likely point out the fact that peas have become a welcome addition to the blog’s ingredient list. We started slow, working the veggie into side dishes and now have embraced that it does have its place on the dinner table. That got me to thinking, “maybe it’s time to give pork a second shot?” If I came around on peas, why wouldn’t pork be any different? Well, tonight we find out if things have changed.

The Recipe: Skillet Glazed Pork Chops

Original Recipe Found In: Cooking for Two 2011

What You’ll Need:

2 (6 to 8 ounce) Boneless, center cut pork chops
3 Tablespoons Maple Syrup
2 Tablespoons Cider Vinegar
1 1/2 Teaspoons Dijon Mustard
1/8 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
2 Teaspoons Vegetable Oil

*Note* in the past 5 years, the pork market has been overwhelmed with ‘enhanced pork’ products. Pork, on its own is a very lean and somewhat dry meat. Throwing it on the grill or even pan frying it can cause most of the moisture to cook right out, along with the natural juices. This is likely the cause of my memories of dry ham or tough and chewy pork chops. It wasn’t my parent’s cooking – it was the meat. If pork isn’t handled a certain way, it becomes a rather pedestrian, even bland dish.

As a result, pork producers have added a pork variant ‘enhanced’ pork that is injected with a salt/water solution. (Sort of like a forced brine). In fact, today it’s harder to find all natural pork on your main grocery stores shelves than it is to find ‘enhanced’ pork. The type of pork chop you choose for this recipe really doesn’t matter. Some taste testers have found that enhanced pork has a ‘salty’ flavor and that it is less than ‘natural’ tasting. Once again, it’s all up to your personal preference.

If you are using enhanced pork, you will not need to brine the pork chop. In addition, you can avoid salting the pork chop in the first step. If your pork chop is all natural, you may want to give the chop a nice 30 minute bath in heavily salted water. Just like any chicken or beef dish that we’ve cooked up in the past, this brining process will aid in the retention of moisture (I.E. flavor).

Begin by patting your pork chops dry and seasoning with salt and pepper (if necessary). Next, combine your maple syrup, vinegar, mustard and thyme in a small bowl and set aside.

Begin heating the oil in a 12 inch skillet on medium high heat until just smoking. Add the chops to the skillet and cook until browned on one side, roughly 3 to 5 minutes. Next, flip the chops and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the center of the chop measures 140 to 145 degrees. Set the chops on a small plate, tented loosely with aluminum foil and set aside.

Next, add the maple syrup mixture to the skillet, making sure to scrape up any browned bits left behind from the chops. Simmer the mixture until it thickens (roughly 2 to 4 minutes). Return the chops to the skillet and cook, flipping frequently, until the chops acquire a thick glaze. This should take about 2 to 3 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

The Results:

Alright pork, you win this time. The dish was juicy, packed full of flavor and not at all tough, chewy or 'salty' as I remember pork being when I was a kid. Maybe pigs have gotten tastier over the years? Either way, the flavorful pork was complimented with an amazingly complex sauce. The glaze wasn't sweet, spicy or tangy - but rather a combination of all three. It complimented the

That's all we have for you this week. We've gone places we've never gone before. Maggie cooked her first breaded fish dish, I introduced pork to the menu. It was a big week! We're back on Monday with a new edition of Around The Culinary World. Until then,


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