It is not every day that I get the chance to chow down on a good pork chop. As a young, poor, college student, eating clean, local, and organic often feels like a giant, never-ending puzzle. The issue isn’t so much availability (I’m lucky enough to live in an area with many small, sustainable farms) as it is cost. Accordingly, I don’t eat baby artichokes drizzled with truffle oil on a daily basis (or, um, ever).
When it comes to meat and money, my slimmer wallet means cheaper cuts. This isn’t an issue at all, because I personally feel the cheaper cuts are tastier, more nourishing, and have more culinary possibilities than their popular counterparts. For instance, I’d choose short ribs over a t-bone any day.
However, one little caveat to this dogma is my love of pork chops. I just…love pork chops. They don’t require much fussing over, they’re pork-y nirvana, and they cook quickly. But they’re double the price per pound of ground pork or a bone-in roast. So you can imagine my excitement at receiving a small package of chops from Little Grasse a couple of days ago. Picture a small child being told they can stay up as late as they want forever.
My initial thoughts strayed towards “Ooh! Ooh! What should I do with them?” Marinades and mixed cooking techniques and elaborate sauces danced through my head. Fortunately, the very small part of me that possesses sense stepped in gave me a stern talking-to: keep it simple, stupid. You don’t need to do anything. Let the natural flavor of the pork come through. Pan fry them and revel in the beauty.
I wasn’t quite ready to give up all seasoning, so me and my smarter self came to a compromise. Pork shining through? Check. A little pizazz via fresh herbs and garlic? Check!
Garlic and Herb Pan-fried Pork Chops
Pork-chops (bone-in if you can manage, they have more flavor)
salt & pepper to taste
1 clove of garlic per chop
2 tsp minced fresh herbs per chop (I used marjoram, but thyme, rosemary, or sage would also be stellar. If using dried herbs, 1/2 tsp per chop will be more than enough)
Butter for the bottom of the pan
Unwrap your chops and bask in their glow. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I think raw pork is really pretty. I mean, look at it. It’s pink and white and it seems to shine from within…okay, back to the cooking. Salt and pepper both sides, and pat half your herbs and garlic onto one side.
Heat up a pan (cast-iron skillet will give you the best crust!), and melt a little butter in it when screaming hot. This is more a formality than anything; as the chops cook they’ll render out quite a bit of their own fat. Place your chops into the pan garlic and herb side down, then spread the rest of the herbs and garlic on the now-exposed side. My skillet would have fit three or four chops, but if you have more than that, you’ll just have to use two pans or do several batches.
Allow to satisfyingly sizzle and spit for 4-5 minutes, until red juices are collecting on top of the uncooked side and the bottoms are golden and pulling away from the side of the pan of their own accord. Flip and allow to cook for another 4-5 minutes. About halfway in to the second cooking period turn off the stove (if using cast-iron), because the pan will retain enough heat to see your dinner home!
Allow the pork chops to rest for at least 5 minutes before devouring with your bare hands – er, I mean, alongside some elegantly prepared side dishes. Enjoy!