The pork chop doesn’t get enough love relative to its meaty peers.
Think about it, you open the menu and you have a choice; the flashy bone in rib eye or a staid pork chop. You rarely grab the latter. While cruising the supermarket lanes, the seafood section calls and the salmon wins out. The dieting crowd will select the chicken breast. This is utterly unfair to the swine’s flesh. From sfgate.com:
One serving of pork is 3 ounces, or about the size of a deck of cards, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. An image of the portion size is important because a thick pork chop can be twice that size and without realizing it you can eat double the calories. You’ll get 137 calories and 4 grams of fat from a 3-ounce pork chop. Pork is similar to chicken, with 3 ounces of chicken breast containing 140 calories and 3 grams of fat. A pork chop has 65 milligrams of cholesterol, compared to 72 grams in chicken breast, but they both have just 1 gram of saturated fat.
Two questions come to mind here.
- Who eats a deck of cards sized anything? C’mon.
- Why are we still talking about saturated fat as if it’s the devil?
Regardless, you’ve been following the blog so you know how we value the flesh of humanely raised, slaughtered and hunted animals and their numerous health benefits. We’ve spent time loving on beef and fish. To this point, we haven’t fully appreciated pork and in particular, the pork chop.
The center cut or pork loin chop includes a large T shaped bone, and is structurally similar to the beef T-bone steak. Rib chops come from the rib portion of the loin, and are similar to rib eye steaks.
Depending on the preparation style, the pork chop can be equally as juicy and flavorful. Roasted, grilled, fried, or stuffed, pork chops offer more versatility than most of your typical proteins. Pork chops are no longer the dry, overcooked cuts you might remember your grandmother preparing. No longer do they have to be cooked well-done. Even the USDA now recommends cooking your pork to a lower temperature, around 145 degrees (roughly a medium). From the Chicago Tribune:
I think it’s great. It’s a long time coming, especially as the quality of pork – particularly heirloom pork – continues to improve. The original reasons for cooking pork to a higher temperature (namely trichinosis) are no longer much of a problem these days. Really good heirloom pork is best served at medium/medium-rare. I’d still love to see it go down a bit more, to about 135, but it’s a huge improvement over 160. Our guests request their pork chops cooked medium rare all the time, so chefs and consumers are both winning here.
I’m certainly not suggesting we stop eating steaks and poultry pieces. As with all of our posts, I’m simple encouraging us to experiment and mine for alternatives. It’s unnecessary to dig too deep on this one. It’s been here for years.