Cooked By TFW: The Perfect Pork Chop

Howdy Kids! It's the Donald Glover (no, but seriously… when I first added the link, I was being 60/40 honest/funny. "The more Glover entertained, the more he grew disenchanted with the business of entertainment. . . . he said, 'Your job is to be as interesting as possible without actually saying anything.'" That's literally me! Ask anyone who knows me [the joke in that: …nobody actually knows me…]) of Food and Fighting, Uncle Tym Tym, and I have some terrible news: the penguins are dying… OH! And, also, polar bears are screwed, too… Meanwhile, as the Earf continues to melt, Drumpf's head of the EPA is pulling his best Francis Bacon impression – knowledge bomb: Bacon was a trash philosopher (I have zero love for Frank) who believed humans should have domain over the entire universe – and believes… get this… the Bible says we should exploit the natural resources of the Earf… that same Earf we are currently melting… This concludes my rant on global warming for the week!

Elsewhere in the world, did you know pretty much every other animal eats pigeon? (The scariest #ThisEatsThat I've ever seen, tho, remains this octopus snatching up a crab. Or maybe, it was this crab Vulcan Death Gripping a bird… Point is: Nature. Is. Terrifying.)

Aside from going down a "what are animals doing?"/"we're all going to melt" rabbit hole, anyone want to guess what else I did this weekend? That's right! I saw Black Panther again! And it is even more amazing the second time through. I had a chance to really sit and focus on the criticisms of Erik Killmonger; appreciate the humanitarian efforts of Nakia; and ruminate on how these two characters want the same thing but go about it in vastly different ways. Seriously, if you haven't seen Black Panther yet, I don't know if we can be friends. (That's not as serious of a threat as it sounds… I'm barely friends with anyone. Surprise! I'm a curmudgeon!) I just read Monday that Disney is celebrating Shuri – the greatest Disney Princess of all time – by donating money to help expand STEM programs in Oakland, CA! I'll probably go see it again sometime this week before I switch gears and start hyping A Wrinkle in Time, because REPRESENTATION MATTERS!!!!!!

Lastly, before we get into this week's recipe, I would be remiss not to mention today is the last day of Black History Month. As a final celebration, lemme enrich your lives beyond belief! The fine folks at Food 52 put together a virtual potluck of 28 delicious soul food recipes. I'd strongly advise y'all bookmark that link and try out each recipe at some point.

Onward to this week's delicious meal: The Perfect Pork Chop! Originally, I was going to make this another entry into my 101 series. I had recently bought a pack of boneless chops from Costco (SERIOUSLY… when is Costco going to just give me that lifetime sponsorship?! #CostcoSponsorTym) and have been trying different ways to cook them. As I did in my Rice 101 post, I was prepared to admit I had another hole in my cooking repertoire: Any time I buy these chops or New York Strips from Costco… I would foolishly cut off the strip of fat before cooking. I don't make bad food, y'all; but I have been holding myself back from making PERFECT food. And so a few weeks ago, I researched how to properly render that strip of fat off the meat instead and was prepared to share what I learned with y'all.

But we deserve a meal, not just a quick "Oh, Tym might actually be an imperfect human" post; we got plenty of those already. So let's learn how to make a loner meal for those of us who are routinely cooking for one. I'm mainly excited because this is a single-skillet meal: everything can be done in your cast iron skillet in just about 20 minutes or less. You'll notice in the picture of the finished product, I have a sauce on my pork chop and veggies; I taught y'all how to make it months ago (it's the whiskey one, cuz I ain't in no dang fight camp right now… also, here's that Vox piece on Grey Poupon I mentioned in that recipe).

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Ingredients

  • 1 Boneless Pork Chop
  • Half a Handful of Broccoli
  • Half a Handful of Brussels Sprouts
  • 1/2 Cup of Deglazing Liquid (choose your own destiny: whiskey, white wine, rice wine, beer, broth… naturally, I went whiskey)
  • 2 Tablespoons Neutral-Flavor Cooking Oil (Canola, Olive, Grapeseed) 
  • Plenty of Salt and Pepper

Directions

1. Food Prep. First off, you're going to want to let the meat sit out for about 15-20 minutes; steak and pork chops cook best at room temperature. While you're letting it sit out, halve the Brussies and toss them and the broccoli into a small mixing bowl. Add the oil and season with salt and pepper, making sure you toss everything well so the veggies are well-coated. Pre-heat your cast iron over medium high heat a few minutes before you start cooking; the trick to cast irons is that you don't want to use it while cold. It takes a bit for it to heat up, but it's so worth it… the sear we're about to get on this meat, y'all! I'm excited for you! After you've let the meat sit out, season all sides of it with salt and pepper, generously. ALL sides. Top, bottom, the fat strip, the other edges. The whole thing. I, of course, use garlic salt; however, using coarse salt is great, too!

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2. Rendering Fat. Notice how I didn't say to add any oil or cooking spray to the skillet? Here's why: When we render the fat off your pork chop, it's going to liquify and that will serve as your cooking oil. That's what makes this thing perfect! Carefully place the pork chop in the cast iron on its side with the strip of fat. If it starts to smoke too much, your cast iron is a little too hot; reduce the heat if necessary. You're going to hold the fat to the flame, so to speak, for about a minute or two until that fat strip is a little crispy, but not burnt. You may need to hold the chop upright with some tongs.

3. Sear Yo Meat! Now that you have some of that pork grease in the skillet, sear each side of the pork chop until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes per side. Here's the other trick with cast iron: Don't touch the meat while it's searing. I know you'll want to check it occasionally, but fight the urge. You want a nice even sear. Trust your skillet; use a stop watch. At 4 minutes, flip it and let the other side sear. If the first side needs a little more time, wait 4 minutes, flip again and sear for a minute. When the chop has an internal temperature of 135º, remove it from the skillet and let it rest on your plate, covered by tin foil for 7-10 minutes. As it rests, it will continue cooking, rising to the desired internal temp of 145º. 

4. Cook Yo Veggies. While the meat is resting, leave the skillet over medium-high heat and add your deglazing liquid. Using a heat-safe rubber spatula, scrape any of the browned bits as the liquid boils. Once it has reduced by half, add your veggies. Unlike your meat, you'll want to occasionally stir the veggies to make sure they cook on all sides. I use broccoli and brussies, because they cook fast. Other options are asparagus, apples, green beans, bok choy, etc. Your veggies should be done by about 7 minutes. Add them to the plate, uncover the meat and ENJOY THE PERFECT PORK CHOP!

And there you have it! A nice, easy meal for one. If you're like me and eat dinner right after the gym, you can take the pork chop out the fridge right when you get home, go shower, then prep the veggies. In that time, you'll have given the meat time to sit out, and boom. Ready to cook! Adding that Dijon Sauce is the next level. You can obviously make this dinner for two, just make sure the pork chops have enough space in the cast iron to cook without touching each other. Pro Tip: If you go with apple slices, cook it with thinly sliced fresh ginger. Game changer. Cooked apples with pork is a lifehack they don't teach you in school! Be sure to share you attempts at the perfect pork chop on all the social medias using the hashtag #CookedByTFW. And – as always, but especially this time, now that you can render that delicious fat on your chops – thank me in the morning!

Tym Gooden