We’re still working through Tom Clark’s pig, although we’ve nearly emptied the freezer shelf of its neatly wrapped packages. Ted, Alex and I have all had a go at cooking pork chops and pork steaks. We’ve learned a lot about cooking pork along the way.
First, temperature. The safety people want pork cooked to 160′. Emeril Lagasse prefers the meat at 135′ and pink so that is is moist and flavorful. With wonderful meat like this grown by a farmer you know, butchered by people you know, and kept by you in a freezer, why not? That said, we tend to cook it more because we like it less pink.
The easiest thing to do with pork chops is fry them. Alice Waters’ technique is the simplest – heat olive oil in a pan, coat the chops with salt and pepper, fry on both sides until the chops are done.
Because the meat has been frozen, and because we cook it to the recommended 160′, it can be a little dry. This is where a sauce comes in handy. I’ve been working through a number of variants. My favorite combined an idea Emeril Lagasse had for a nectarine chutney with a recipe for apricot sauce for my spin on the fruit-and-pork pairing.
Pork Chops in Apricot Sauce
1 cup apricots, dried
1/3 cup apricot brandy (I like this so I have it on hand – you can use white wine or water if you want)
Soak the apricots in water for an hour. Keep 1/3 cup of the water, drain the rest.
Lightly salt pork chops. Fry in a little bit of olive oil until brown. Set them aside. Add the apricot water and apricot brandy to the pan, bring to a boil, simmer for 1-2 minutes. Put the pork chops back in the pan, put the apricots on the chops, and spoon the liquid up over the chops. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes or so until the chops are done.