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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Marjoram braised pork chops

Pork chops braised in chicken stock with marjoram and mirin; salad of mixed greens, tomatoes, green onions, raisins, and peanuts with my usual salad dressing

I've been using my garden herbs all summer and was in the mood for a flavor other than thyme, rosemary, basil, chive, savory, or lavender. To me, marjoram tastes a lot like thyme and a little like oregano and a little like its own thing.

The pork chops at the coop looked enticing this afternoon. I seasoned the chops with just some salt and pepper. Since they came with nice, thick, fatty edges I used only a little bit of beef fat to brown each chop (I did three). After browning each chop I set them aside. Then, I put them all back into the pan and poured in about a cup of chicken stock and layered over a bunch of fresh marjoram. I brought this to a simmer, added about 1/4 cup mirin (rice wine, but you could use any vinegar or white wine), lowered the temperature to about medium low, and covered partially.

I wish I could tell you how long I cooked the pork. But such is the nature of this blog. I was preoccupied with the mess Jasper was making, putting together a salad, doing some last-minute cleaning up. But you should cook pork to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees. My sister gave me an electronic meat thermometer for my birthday a few years back, and it has become one of my all-time favorite kitchen tools. I can keep the thermometer in while the meat cooks, and even set it to ring when the meat reaches the desired temperature. I just have to be careful that the probe is in the center of the meat, and not all the way through and touching the pan.

After the pork was done I removed it from the pan and set it aside to rest (always let your meat rest a few minutes after cooking. It helps the juices to settle in the meat rather than all running out when you cut into it). Then I turned the heat up high again, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, and stirring occasionally. The sauce reduced after about ten minutes or so into a thick glaze to pour over the chops.

Yesterday at the playground I met a woman who teaches cooking classes. We got to talking about boneless, skinless chicken breast. "You might as well eat tofu! It's completely flavorless!" I agreed. Admittedly with the chauvinism of a naturally thin person, I can't imagine why you'd want to sacrifice so much flavor just to avoid a few extra fat calories. It seems worth it to me. And the avoidance of bone for the sake of convenience -- also unthinkable. Even if you poach the chicken breast carefully with herbs -- eh. Perhaps you disagree, in which case I'd be interested to hear your argument.

Anyway, I had this conversation in mind today at the meat section of the coop when I overheard a woman talking with a coop worker. She wanted boneless, skinless turkey breast. "Oh no, you don't want to do that," I muttered to myself. Or so I thought. "Yes she does," said the coop worker. Ghastly, I'd turned into one of those annoying people who give unsolicited advice and judgment under their breath but loud enough to hear. Dear reader, I hung my head in shame and scuttled away with my fat, bone-in pork chops. But that doesn't mean I wasn't right.

3 comments:

Dave said...

I had a roommate who was repulsed by any meat with bones in it. He said he just couldn't eat it. Yes, drunsticks, t-bones, even Buffalo wings were denied him. Freaky, and only possible in our weird, processed-food existence. He was from California, if that counts for anything.

janeannechovy said...

If you put the thermometer in from the side, you don't have to worry about going past the center of the meat. And do you mean 160? I think I cook mine a tad rarer than that, and don't forget the temp will continue to rise while the meat's resting.

We had pork for dinner last night, too, a slow-cooked leg roast. I love this cut!

Adriana Velez said...

Yikes! Yes, I meant 160.

I thought of one good use for boneless meat: stirfry. But even then I'd go for dark meat rather than white because dark is more flavorful.