Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Orange Glazed Pork Chops: A Recipe That Needs Some Work

June 30, 2013

Orange Glazed Pork Chops
Steamed Rice
Domaine de Le Rasmus 2007 Sassy and Spicy Gewürtzaminer

I hadn't been planning to make this recipe, but in the midst of a heat wave, with day after day of temperatures approaching 100°, I wanted something easy, quick, and not involving the oven. A simple skillet dinner fit the bill: orange-glazed pork chops served with steamed rice and a crudité of carrot, cucumber, celery, green bell pepper, and red bell pepper.

I have had the recipe for orange-glazed pork chops for a very long time, since before I met Diane. I recall making it as a grad student around 1975. The recipe card is stained, though still readable, and lacking in details. I probably assumed that I would remember how to make this dish so I just recorded the ingredients and bare details for cooking. I know better, now. The recipe card says that the recipe is from Betty Crocker, but I don't remember just where it came from and my efforts to find the recipe on-line were futile.

The sauce is what keeps bringing us back to this dish. While I can recall having juicy, moist pork with this recipe back in 1975, more recently the meat has been overcooked, dry, and tough.

 Starting from the old recipe card and my memory, I came up with a recipe with a some details:
  • Buy two pork chops, ¾–1-inch thick, about 1 pound.
  • In a small bowl combine the ingredients for the sauce.
  • Pat the chops dry and cut slits in the fat and connective tissue on the edges to prevent the meat from cupping when it is cooked.
  • Season the chops with ½ teaspoon Kosher salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to a skillet over medium and heat until just smoking.
  • Brown the chops on both sides, approximately 2-3 minutes per side.
  • Reduce the heat to low, add the sauce, and simmer until the internal temperature of the meat is  145°.
  • Move the chops to a serving platter and pour the glaze over them.

Several things went wrong with this recipe. First, the internal temperature of the chops after 20 minutes was already190°!  Second, I left the chops simmering in the pan while the rice cooked and even though the heat was turned down the sauce burned.

So the meat was way overdone very quickly which explains why this recipe often produces tough, dry pork chops. In the years since this recipe was developed, farmers have been producing leaner pork and what might have worked 40 years ago does not work today. The sauce includes a lot of sugar and so is easy to burn if you're not careful. I was able to salvage this meal by quickly making some more sauce, but it is clear the recipe needs some work to bring it up to date. A long, slow simmer is clearly not the way to go when cooking typical supermarket pork chops. I'll do some research, looking at  at recipes for Easy Pork Chops,  and Jack Be Quick Orange Glazed Pork Chops, among others. The sauce is good and it deserves to be served with a tender, juicy chop.

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