Sunday, January 02, 2011

RQ Cooks- The Other White Meat

So it's winter, which means it's cheap pork season. Kid and I found thick cut pork chops for 99 cents per pound (2 chops equals a pound) and we'll be eating pork chops a few times this week. For some reason (religion, fear of undercooked pork from parents, I don't know what) most of my friends are afraid of cooking pork and unfamiliar with what to do with it. If you find a cheap pork roast- throw that shit in the crock pot and eat up. But chops are as easy to work with as boneless, skinless chicken breasts. The thinner cut chops are more tender, but thick cut chops can be yummy too.

When I have the cash I like to bread the chops and make pork chops limonata. It's just your basic breading- flour, dip in egg wash, dip in seasoned breadcrumbs. I add lots of extra seasoning to the bread crumbs. Garlic salt (Lowrys California style with parsley- I swear by that shit. I don't know why it's different and better, but it is) lemon pepper, regular pepper, oregano or basil, paprika, and as much finely grated lemon zest as you can get your hands on. In a heavy skillet, heat up a generous amount of oil (if you have leftover bacon fat in the fridge, throw some of that in with vegetable or olive oil, but not bacon fat all by itself because it will burn to fast). Fry the chops. If they are thin, this will only take a few minutes on each side. Squeeze a lemon wedge or two over each finished chop for extra tangy goodness.

When I don't have the cash, or the space, or the patience, to bread I just saute. This is the exact same thing I do to boring chicken breasts, and I NEVER have dry or bland meat. I have a meat nose in the same way that bakers have a bread nose. I can tell the doneness of a steak by sniffing it.

So how to saute cheap white meats...

In a heavy skillet, heat olive oil on high. Throw your well-weasoned meat in. Sear it on each side till it gets a little orangey-golden and then flip. Don't play fidgety Phil with your meat. Extra flipping doesn't help. If you're using a cast iron or stainless steel pan, the meat will stick at first. Ignore it. Once it gets hot enough to start releasing liquid, it will unstick itself.

When it's nice and golden on each side, you steam it. You don't add any extra liquid. Just turn the pan down to medium low and stick a lid on it. If I am making rice to go with dinner, I usually judge timing like this- the time it takes for the water to boil is the time it takes to sear. The time it takes for the rice to cook (20 to 25 minutes) is the time it takes for the meat to steam. Halfway through the 20 minutes of steaming, I flip and check. (If you are using thin cut pork chops- this time is cut way the fuck down).

Once the meat (or chicken) is cooked through, I turn the pan back up to high to crisp up the outside or re-sear. Takes just a few minutes. If you want, while the meat is resting off the stove, you can then turn all the yummy drippings into a pan sauce. Add a little stock or wine or water, a little butter, a little flour and whisk over low heat, making sure to get all the crunchy pan numminess mixed in.

So for under 5 bucks, Kid and I had a delicious dinner of sauteed pork chops, rice pilaf and brussel sprouts. (I cheated, the rice is a Near East mix that was on sale for a buck. But pilaf is easy, use stock instead of water to cook your rice in and mix in some sauteed onions and garlic and whatever).

Now if someone can teach me how to buy fish (that isn't tilapia or salmon) and cook it for cheap, I will heart them forever.

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