Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Never buy Pork Chops Again!

In installment #2 of our "trimming meat" series, we will focus on a family favorite- Pork Chops!  Now, this is important because it will

a) Save you money
b) keep you from getting angry when you buy a package of pork chops and they have hidden a couple of really crappy ones under the top ones
c) introduce you to how to trim silver skin from a pork loin.  This is really easy, but if you have never done it you may be a little trepidatious at first.  However, this same skill is used extensively when you trim a Beef Tenderloin into steaks- and it's a lot better to experiment with a pork tenderloin than a $10+/lb beef tenderloin!

Half pork loin, fat cap on top
Ok, first select a pork loin.  Loins are available either whole or halves.  Most warehouse type stores carry whole ones, groceries carry halves.  Usually, they can be purchased for around $2.00/lb, which is significantly less than the $4 to $5/lb for slice pork chops!  Really, the ease of trimming your own is such that it is almost crazy to buy sliced pork chops unless they are on a significant sale.

The two ends of a pork loin are different.  One half will be thicker, with a thin layer of fat and silver skin around a portion of it.  The other half has this layer that runs into the loin and through the middle of it.  When we are purchasing a half loin, we always go for the side with the silver skin- it's easy to trim off and then we don't have to deal with it.

Trimming off silver skin
Open the cryovac and drain.  You can pat the loin dry with a paper towel if you wish. Turn the loin over, the fat cap will basically extend around 3/4 of the loin.  Start by inserting a thin boning or utility knife under the silver skin/fatcap.  Try to get about 1" or so before the knife comes out.  Then, turning the blade so it is angled approximately 45 degrees up, start moving the knife towards one end of the loin.  After you get it trimmed to the end, grasp the cut end and turn the knife around and head back until you remove a whole strip. 

Continue with this and work your way around the loin until the whole fat cap is removed.  The goal here is to leave as much meat on the loin while removing the silver skin. 

After you have removed all of this, you will be left with a beautiful piece of loin.  From this point you can do many things with it.  One favorite of ours is to smoke it (of course season or marinate it first) to an internal temp of 145 degrees, then slice into thick chops and finish on a hot grill with a glaze. 

Nice looking pork chops!
If you would just like to have some pork chops- it is very easy to slice into pork chops of any size.  I normally cut a variety- some thick ones for grilling and some thinner ones for frying/baking. 

One thing we do to chops we are going to grill is JACCARD them.  A Jaccard is a push type tenderizer with 48 tiny knives.  As you press down on the item, the knives extend and cut into the meat.  This helps the product absorb flavors better as well as cook faster and be more tender. 

One trick is to season the outside of the chops and then jaccard it- this helps push the seasonings or flavor into the meat.  These are very inexpensive and are great for tenderizing chops or steaks.

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