Chop Talk

SUNDAY GOURMET

April 07, 1991|By Gail Forman

Good pork chop recipes are hard to come by. Because I find the flavor of a well-cooked chop irresistible, I also find speculation about this scarcity of recipes diverting if inconclusive.

Maybe the pig's johnny-come-lately arrival to the food supply -- almost two thousand years after the sheep's and the goat's -- is the key to the mystery. But then that was 9,000 years ago. Or it could be that the pig's reputation as a sloppy creature is the reason good pork chop recipes are in short supply.

The Bible enjoins us not to cast our pearls before swine. And everyone knows that you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Not only do pigs get bad press, they have also contributed many defamatory words to our vocabulary. Messy, greedy overeaters are labeled pigs or hogs. Vicious or contemptible men are called swine and slovenly or careless women are sows.

Yet poor maligned creatures that they are, pigs do make delicious eating. The best pork chops are loin chops, which come from the porker's rib cage and include center-cut, rib and loin-end chops. Shoulder chops are a little tougher.

If you go around like I do, sniffing out special pork chop recipes the way the Perigord breed of hogs in France roots out truffles with their snouts, you are always happy when you unearth a new recipe. You know good eating is just an hour away. For that's all the time it takes to cook most chops to tenderness.

As for the latest nutritional word on pork chops: trimmed of visible fat they have about the same amount of cholesterol as chicken. So you can enjoy these savory dishes as often as you like.

BRAISED PORK CHOPS

6 thick loin pork chops, fat trimmed

salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, finely minced

1/2 teaspoon oregano, thyme, basil or rosemary

1/2 cup boiling water (substitute barbecue sauce, dry white wine or tomato, orange or pineapple juice)

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Sprinkle chops with salt and pepper. Brush a non-stick skillet with oil, add chops, brown well and drain fat. Add onion and garlic and brown lightly. Sprinkle with herbs, add water, cover and simmer, turning occasionally, 45 minutes or until tender. Stir in parsley. Serves six.

BAKED PORK CHOPS WITH APPLES

6 thick loin pork chops, fat trimmed

salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons butter

4 large cooking apples, cored and thinly sliced

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup boiling water

Sprinkle chops with salt and pepper. Melt butter in a non-stick skillet, add chops and brown well. Remove to an oven-proof casserole. Scatter apple slices over chops. Dissolve sugar in water and pour over top. Bake in a 350-degree oven, basting occasionally, 45 minutes or until tender. Serves six.

TANGY PORK CHOPS WITH POTATOES

6 thick loin pork chops, fat trimmed

salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon oil

1 1/2 lemons, quartered and seeded

6 thick slices onion

6 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered

1/2 cup tomato sauce or tomato ketchup

1 1/2 cups water

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Sprinkle chops with salt and pepper. Brush a non-stick skillet with oil, add chops and brown well. Drain fat. Arrange a lemon quarter and an onion slice on top of each chop. Surround with potatoes. Combine tomato sauce, water and lemon juice and pour over chops. Cover and simmer, basting occasionally, 45 minutes or until tender. Serves six.

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