A juicy pork chop from the loin or belly is a treat. Often the most difficult part of the process is the shopping because finding good quality meat can be a challenge. I insist on free-range or ideally organic pork meat which I get from my local craft butcher. I tend to try and give my butcher advance notice when I want a very specific piece of meat. You can justify the extra cost of this slowly and carefully reared meat by eating less of it and increasing the quantity or variety of vegetables being served alongside. You will need a generous coating of fat on a loin chop and a generous streaking of fat through the belly pieces. The fat keeps the meat succulent in the cooking and adds delicious lip-smacking flavour. I always ask my butcher to remove the rind as I find it is never cooked to my satisfaction when left attached to the meat for grilling. I cook it in the same pan alongside the chops, sometimes cut into 1cm dice or 5cm pieces. That way all of the liquid fat will be rendered out and the rind will become shatteringly crisp which is the way I want it. Whereas previously I might have served a pork chop to each person, I now tend to divide a chop between two people or if I know my guests are especially big eaters, I might divide 3 chops between 4. I carve the meat into ¾ cm angled slices before it goes to the table in which case I think it looks more lovely than the rather more robust chops.
Heat a heavy cast-iron grill pan or frying pan until moderately hot. Scatter on the pieces of pork rind and cook over a moderate heat until the liquid fat begins to render out. Turn up the heat and when the pan is hot, push the rinds to the edges and pop on the chops. Allow to cook until golden in colour before turning to cook on the other side. The cooked chops will feel gently firm to the touch but beware of overcooking them as they will become dry and hard. I like my pork cooked through and not pink though this is personal of course.
Serve the pork on hot plates sliced into ¾ cm slices with your sauces of choice.
My suggestion here is to serve the pork with roasted almond and sage leaf salsa and yellow apple sauce. (see recipes page*)