Know Your Cuts: Pork Chops 101

Sirloin chops, rib chops, porterhouse chops. You’ve seen them all in your Kettle Club share. That’s because we like to ensure you’re getting a variety of our premium heritage pork cuts. But we understand all the different names can be daunting. So, let’s talk chop.

What is a pork chop anyway?

All pork chops are cut from the loin, the section of the pig that runs from the shoulder to the hip. Here’s where things can get a bit confusing. Each pork chop goes by a different name depending on the area of the loin it’s cut from. Let’s start with a few popular chops from the front end of the loin and work our way towards the tail.

Rib Chop

Sometimes referred to as the center-cut chop or rib end cut, this chop is cut from the center of the loin near the rib area. It will contain a large eye of lean meat with no tenderloin. The rib chop is primarily cut bone-in, with the bone running along the side.

Boneless Chops

Our featured Kettle Club chop for July is the boneless chop. Sometimes referred to as the New York Chop, these cuts are located near the top of the loin. These chops are lean and taste amazing after a good brine bath. Check out this month’s recipe for brined boneless chops.

Porterhouse Chop

Porterhouse chops are cut from the lower back behind the rib chops. They are identifiable by the centered bone that divides the meat from the tenderloin muscle. These chops can present a challenge when cooking as the tenderloin tends to cook faster than the loin section. But the intense flavor and beautiful presentation is worth mastering. Be careful not to overcook. A brine also works well for these delicious chops.

Sirloin Chops

These chops are cut from the hip area towards the back of the loin. Despite the fact that this chop packs a ton of flavor, it’s often overlooked because of its appearance. The cut contains various muscle groups, giving a bit of a mismatched look. The sirloin chop takes quite well to braising and will take on a ton of flavor from your favorite marinade.

Recipe: Pork Chop Brine

Nothing loosens up those stiff muscles quite like a soak in the tub. Pork chops would agree! Before you toss those chops on the grill this summer, let them unwind in a relaxing brine bath. Simply put, a brine is a liquid solution that includes salts. The salt helps break up protein or muscle fibers resulting in a juicer, more flavorful chop. Check out this great brine recipe!

Ingredients:

1/4 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup molasses

2 whole cloves

1/2cup boiling water

3 ½ cups cold water

2 boneless pork chops

1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil

 

Directions:

  1. Combine salt, molasses, cloves, and boiling water in a large container. Stir until molasses and salt are dissolved; let cool to room temperature.
  2. Pour cold water into molasses mixture; stir to combine.
  3. Completely submerge pork chops in molasses mixture. Cover container and refrigerate for 6 hours.
  4. Remove pork chops from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Lightly oil each chop.
  5. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat and lightly oil the grate.
  6. Place pork chops on the hottest part of the grill; cook each side until browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a medium-high area of the grill and cook pork until it is slightly pink in the center, 6 to 8 minutes per side. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the chop should read 145 degrees F.

Enjoy!

 

Farm Spotlight: Clover Hill Harvest LLC

On a crisp March morning, Jen Brevard fires up the UTV she has nicknamed “the feed cart” and heads towards the pastures of the family’s 120-acre farm outside of Helenville, Wisconsin. Her pigs are anticipating her arrival and run to greet her.

“I love watching them dance through the pastures when they hear me coming,” Jen says. “They look as if they’re about to take flight!”

Remember those impossible tasks you promised to do when pigs sprouted wings? Well don’t worry folks, you’re still off the hook. Jen is referring to the sizable floppy ears her heritage pigs, Large Blacks, are known for. This unique feature helps protect their eyes while rooting and foraging on pasture.

“This breed was really built for utilizing forages,” Jen explains. “We keep a mix of red clover, alfalfa and pasture grasses, which they really like. They also enjoy munching on dandelions and thistle. So, they actually help keep the pastures healthy by doing a little weeding for us.”

Jen keeps her Large Black pigs on pasture year-round. The pastures are equipped with straw porta huts, so the pigs have a cozy spot to go in inclement weather. She says she has noticed a considerable improvement in the pastures since she started raising pigs in 2014.

“Every year the pastures seem to get a little better,” she says. “We move pigs frequently to ensure that manure is dispersed evenly in each area. The pigs have really helped turn this piece of land around.”

Jen became interested in raising heritage pork after reading a book about backyard homesteading. She’s now a full-time farmer and says she really enjoys spending time with her pigs.

“Aside from just being able to do what I love, there’s a real preservation aspect to raising these pigs. The demand for these unique breeds ensures that producers can continue to raise animals in a sustainable manner and keep these breeds from being eradicated. It’s a healthy environment for the pigs and a healthy product for consumers.”