Everytime we order either a half or a quarter of a pastured pig we get plenty of pork chops. Pork chops can either be a burden or a blessing and I decided to turn them into a decadent blessing. If cooked too quickly, they can be tough and overly chewy. This is not appetizing and it doesn’t have to be that way. Pastured pork chops typically have less fat marbling than conventional chops, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t delight your tastebuds, my friends. This recipe and method will also work with conventional chops as well as pork steaks.
Balsamic vinegar is made from grapes. Do you know how this will benefit lovely cuts of pork? The sourness will tenderize your pork and the natural sugars will caramelize and sweeten towards the end of cooking. The balance of sour, sweet and the salt added will dance all over your palate.
We’re going to bake the chops low and slow to maximize their tenderness and “falling off the bone” capabilities, ok? A touch of thyme will further tantalize your tastebuds and complement the balsamic vinegar. I really enjoy making pork chops this way when I’m at home doing projects or catching up on cleaning. The prep time is short, I can get things done during the low and slow cooking and the results are worth the wait.
This recipe is for four servings. If you have a larger family like mine or company over, it’s super easy to double.
Ingredients: (Prep: 5 minutes, Cooking Time: 2hrs 25 minutes) (Makes 4 average servings)
4 room temperature pork chops about 3/4 inch thick (to locate a farmer for pastured pork chops, check out eatwild.com)
4T organic balsamic vinegar
1T dried organic thyme (here)
mineral-rich salt (here) to salt both sides of the chops
2T pastured lard, pastured butter (like Kerrygold) or ghee/clarified butter
Bake at 275F for 2hrs 25 minutes.
Place your room temperature (cold meat= tough meat) pork chops onto a baking sheet. Pour 1.5t of balsamic vinegar/side on each chop. Use a spoon to spread it out over the meat. Evenly salt each chop and sprinkle a pinch of thyme over each chop, on each side.
After you’ve flipped the chops over and put the vinegar, salt and thyme on both sides, top each chop with a dollop of the saturated fat of choice. Here I used pastured lard. The fat caps around each chop will drip down a bit during cooking to keep them from sticking to the baking sheet and the fat will melt on top to keep the meat from drying out.
Cover the top with a piece of unbleached parchment paper. (I added some pork steaks on the side prepared exactly the same way. What can I say? We love our pastured pork around here!)
After about an hour and 15 minutes of cooking, the chops will look like this and there will be juice coming off of them. At this point, flip them over and cover again with the parchment paper. This will help them to cook evenly and to have evenly distributed juices in the meat.
At the 2 hour point, flip the chops again and cover again with your parchment paper.
When the chops are done, they should be nicely browned and the meat should be pulling away from the bones, if your chops have bones.
The meat should be able to pull away easily with just a fork, no knife needed!
Save the beautifully browned juices from the bottom of the baking sheet to pour over the meat before serving.