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The poor misunderstood pork chop

I sell a lot of pork chops, but I still have customers that ask to substitute them for something else, anything ese, in a bundle because they don't like pork chops. While I am happy to make any substitutions I can in our bundles, I can't help but feel they're missing out.

I get it. Pork chops have a reputation, often deserved, as a tough and flavorless cut of meat, but it doesn't have to be that way.

How many of you think of ribeye steak or t-bone steak as tough or flavorless? Not many. However, a pork chop is often the same cuts! While 'pork chop' is pretty non specific and can come from several areas and still be called a pork chop, the one most often associated with chops, and the only ones I sell, are cut from the loin, just like a ribeye and t-bone in beef.

Why do people think pork chops are tough and flavorless?

There are two main factors that led to pork getting a bad rap. The first one was provided unintentionally by the USDA. Take a look at the photo of the vintage meat thermometer and see what temperature it recommends fresh pork to be cooked to:185 degrees!! Even the greatest ribeye steak, if it were cooked to 185 degrees, would taste like shoe leather.

Fortunately, the USDA did more safety testing over the years and eventually came to its senses. In 2011, they officially changed their guidance for pork and now recommend a 145 degree internal temperature. (the same as beef)

After years of being trained eradicate any remaining pink color (and consequently tenderness) in pork, Americans are having some trouble adjusting to the new way of thinking about pork.

A friend of mine who is a chef tells me he still has trouble with pork because customers will send it back if it looks too pink. "I should send it out with a food safety chart," he jokes.

What is the second reason you mentioned?

Are you familiar with the ad the pork industry used to champion? Pork, the other white meat! Decades were spent trying to make their product compete with chicken! Through selective breeding and streamlining of the butchering process, they have largely succeeded, in both the flavor and method of production.

The pork industry raced toward longer and leaner hogs, and hogs that could get to marketable size sooner. When those two traits became the primary driver for selecting breeding hogs, most of the other traits, including marbling and flavor was left behind.

The degree to which this has occurred was brought into the light during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when millions of hogs were euthanized. The system is so streamlined that a delay of weeks in processing the hogs created a processing logjam and resulted in animals that became too large and did not properly fit in the processing machinery and were, by corporate standards, useless.

I understand that the world needs to be fed and the pork industry is very efficiently doing that. However, there is room for other views and other methods of food production. We provide an alternative in both methods and product to mainstream pork.

What is your pork like?

Our pork is different. We fatten our hogs slower, using our own non-GMO feeds. Our process generally takes 5-7 weeks longer than mainstream pork. Our hogs are old style breeds that are bred for flavor! They will often have a darker color than grocery store pork and will have the all important marbling that is seen in beef steaks.

Even the ground meats like sausage, brats and porkburgers benefit from our meat quality. The flavor will be noticeably different and the sausage patties and porkburgers will not reduce down to half their size when you cook them!

The next time you get a chance, give pork another look. Cook one of our pork chops the same way you like your steaks and see what you think. You'll be hooked when you discover how great pork chops can be and what a value they are!

Pro tip: An air fryer makes an EXCELLENT pork chop in short order. Just throw the chop in at 375 degrees for 12 minutes or so (even frozen if necessary) and lightly season. Flip it once about halfway through and let it rest a few minutes when its done. Notice I said "or so." Remember to check your temperature with a meat thermometer and don't overcook it.


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