When we asked Daniel what his favorite Flying Pigs meal was, we knew that we were asking a difficult question. And it's not just because their product is so exceptional, but because pig is so exceptional. Even for us pork lovers, it's not easy to pin down a best-loved cut. How do you choose a slow-cooked, falling-off-the-bone shoulder over a thick, juicy chop? Or slow-smoked ribs, or bacon, or sausage, or dry-cured ham, or.... well, you get the point.
Unable to decide on just one preferred pork preparation, Daniel listed three. Among them: carbonara made with bacon ends and rich, free-range eggs, carnitas, and grilled pork chops. We recently put together a great carbonara and have been doing a lot of braises lately, so we decided to go with the chop. Daniel likes to serve his charred (but still pink) with thinly cut potatoes pan-fried in bacon fat and some seasonal greens. And because the market is overflowing with apples right now, we decided to throw in a bit of our own flavor- a savory apple sauce.
One of the things we love about the Flying Pigs chops, besides their insanely porky taste, is the 3/8 inch layer of fat left around the edges. But sometimes it can be tricky to get more than the outer 1/8 golden and crisped up. Luckily Daniel let us in on a new technique to allow the sizzling heat to get deeper: cross-score the fat! Just when you think you know how to make a simple pork chop...
Pan-Seared Pork Chops
+ 2 pork chops, 1 ½ - 2 inches thick with a nice layer of fat
+ coarse grain sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Pat pork chops dry with a paper towel. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut into "x"s into the fat. Make sure you don't cut into the flesh of the chop, but do cut through a substantial amount the fat.
3. Heavily salt the chop on both sides with the sea salt, rubbing the salt into the fat.
4. Place the cast iron pan over high heat and wait until the pan starts to smoke. When the pan is hot place the pork chops on edge, fat side down, for about a minute. If the pork chop is thick enough it should balance.
5. Sear each of the other sides for about a minute and a half each. Remove the pan from the burner and put it in the oven for about 10 minutes - or until it reaches 135 degrees. (We highly recommend getting an electric meat thermometer.) When done, take the chops out of the pan and let them sit for about 7 minutes.
Note: These directions are for a medium-rare pork chop, which is delicious! But we ONLY recommend cooking it to this temperature if you are getting meat from a source you trust, selling pasture-raised pork. Otherwise, cook the chops for a little bit longer.
Potato Slices Pan-Fried in Bacon Fat
+ 3 - 4 tablespoons of bacon drippings - when ever you cook bacon or pork chops, save the fat in a little container in your fridge for cooking and frying
+ 1 lb of potatoes - we used Red Golds which were perfect and turned a gorgeous color, the waxier the better.
+ salt and pepper to taste
+ rosemary, thyme, sage or similar herbs to taste
1. Slice the potatoes thinly, to about ⅛” - ¼” thickness. A mandoline is perfect for this.
2. In a heavy-duty pan, heat bacon drippings on med-high. When the fat has melted and begins to sizzle, add the potatoes, herbs, salt and pepper.
3. Stir occasionally. After about five minutes, turn the heat to medium and continue to stir every now and then. If the potatoes start to stick to the pan, add a little water to deglaze the pan.
4. Cook until all the slices are tender and golden - about 40 min.
Savory Apple Sauce
+ 1 tablespoon butter
+ 3 apples cut up into big chunks - we used 2 Jonagold and 1 Macoun
+ 1 clove of garlic, crushed
+ ½ cup apple cider vinegar
+ 1 tablespoon of yellow mustard seeds
+ 1 tablespoon of honey
+ 3 peppercorns, cracked
+ 1 inch length of cinnamon stick.
1. Melt butter on medium-high heat. When butter is melted and starting to foam, add all ingredients.
2. Keep at a steady simmer, stirring occasionally.
3. Cook until desired consistency- about 20 to 30 minutes. We like ours a little chunky.
4. Serve with pork chops.