Monday, November 17, 2014

Comforting Pork Chops - Polish Style

Pork has been the meat of first choice in Poland for decades and is the basis for a great many comfort food recipes.  We love our pork, grilled, baked, braised, stewed in sour kraut, or almost any way possible.  One of the favorite cuts for serving pork is the common chop.  

In recent years the pork we see in the U.S. is specially bred for leanness so some cuts are definitely less flavorful than the farm-bred pigs to which Babcia was accustomed.  Back in her day, Polish pigs on a pre-WWII farm were fed a diet of potatoes, sour milk, old cabbage, corn, etc., and that’s why the milder Polish hams became so popular all over the world. 

Today, pork is big business everywhere and pigs are specially bred to be disease resistant, leaner and to yield more usable pounds per pig.  So the product we see in our grocery stores is generally leaner.  That’s also why the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) now says that pork roasts and thick chops can be safely cooked to medium rare at a final internal cooked temperature of 145 F° , followed by a three-minute rest time.

All this means that today’s pork is healthier but also has less intense flavor, in our opinion.  So we like to buy bone-in center-cut chops to get the best taste, such as this photo from J Vrola Meat Company. .  

Today’s recipe is one of our favorite ways to prepare chops, especially if there’s too much snow or rain outside to fire up the grill.  Look for the bone in style, maybe with a little fat on the edges, and don’t trim all that goodness away too soon. 

Serves 6
6 medium bone-in, center cut loin chops ½ to ¾ inches thick 
6 tablespoons flour
2 large eggs, lightly whisked
Salt & pepper to taste
1 cup unseasoned bread crumbs  (Panko style are even better)
1 teaspoon fresh marjoram or ½ teaspoon dried
½ cup bacon drippings, shortening, or cooking oil .

Season the flour with salt and pepper to taste.  Season the breadcrumbs with more salt and pepper plus the marjoram.  .

Trim most of the fat off the chops, leaving some for flavor.  Mix the salt and pepper into the flour and the dredge the chops.  Shake off the excess flour and dip chops in the egg mixture.  Roll in breadcrumbs and lightly press the crumbs into the surface of each chop.

Brown the chops well on both sides in the hot fat.  Place chops in one layer in a large baking dish and finish in a pre-heated oven at 325 F ° for 15 to 20 minutes.  Using your instant-read meat thermometer, the chops will be done at 150 to 155F °.  

Serve these chops with red cabbage on the side, or boiled or mashed potatoes, or on a bed of stewed sauerkraut that has been flavored with bits of bacon and caraway seeds.


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