Pork is one of those animals we should never eat from a factory farm. Hogs love living outside where they spend their day playing in intricate social groups and grazing from the pasture.
They also literally soak up the sun where, like us, they convert the sun’s energy into vitamin D. Vitamin D is critical for our health, and nearly every American is deficient in it. That is unless you eat pork that was raised outdoors where their fat has high levels of this essential nutrient.
I’d rather get my vitamins from the sun and some bacon than some laboratory, how about you?
We taste test a lot of pork chops and steaks -- we take one small steak off of every steer to get a sense of the natural variation in taste and texture. When we taste test to compare, we only season with a good quality sea salt. If you want to do to a taste test with our pork, I recommend the same.
I also enjoy some thyme or rosemary with pork chops if I am not doing a taste test.
The USDA recently changed their safety recommendations on cooking pork to be more in line with top chefs. The current recommendation is to cook pork chops the same as beef steaks. We always have previously frozen pork chops and thus like to take ours off at 135 degrees and allow a 5-10 minute covered rest for a nice medium-rare or medium. This will keep the sweet delicate flavor and tender texture of the pork. Cooking pasture raised heritage chops to ‘well done’ will still result in a superior meal when comparing to the shoe leather passed off as pork chops in the store, but you’ll miss out on something quite special if you over cook these.
I think pork chops, more than steaks, benefit from sous vide cooking. Sous vide is where the meat is sealed in a plastic bag with any seasoning and cooked in a water bath. The sous vide appliance keeps the water at the desired temp so that the entire pork chop comes out perfectly cooked. I usually set my sous vide to 138 degrees for pork chops and then sear on a really hot cast iron pan.
The government recommends 145 degrees, apparently because this provides a buffer in case your thermometer is in accurate or you measured the wrong part of the chops. This website says a lower temperature is safe, but you of course should follow the government guidelines. If your pork chops were deep frozen, that also renders the meat safe from trichinosis.
Be sure to try the fat on pasture raised organic fed pork chops, it is spectacular and chock full of vitamins not found in factory farmed pork. If you still don’t like the idea of eating this heart protecting fat at dinner, at least save it to cook on low heat in a skillet until it renders out as a liquid and fry your eggs in it!
The butcher was so impressed with the marbling on our chops, they took a photo – they rarely see pork chops with any marbling in it – We hope you enjoy this example of how hard work pays off!