DES MOINES, Iowa, April 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Pork plays a central role in so many of our celebrations—it's hard to imagine BBQ season without a slab of baby back ribs or Easter brunch without a ham — but it's the adaptable pork chop that can be a dinnertime star 365 days a year. Though this popular cut from the loin is one of the most versatile in the meat case, the new "However You Chop It" survey(1) revealed that only about one in five Americans truly realizes the potential of this endlessly inspiring option.
To help home cooks unleash the limitless power of the pork chop, America's pork producers have enlisted a pro who knows a thing or two about chops – Grand Champion of the popular cooking competition, "Chopped" and recent winner of "Iron Chef America" — Chef Madison Cowan. Boasting stints cooking in London, Jamaica, Detroit and even for the U.S. Coast Guard, the worldly chef is known for blending diverse inspirations from around the globe. But one of his favorite constants is the pork chop.
"When it comes to versatility, it's hard to beat pork chops," says Cowan, who also stars in the new television show, "No Kitchen Required." "I'm a firm believer that chops are a great cut to inspire a bit more creativity in the kitchen. It's ideal to keep a couple go-to chop recipes in your back pocket, but why not spread your culinary wings and try a new flavor combination or technique? I find that experimenting in the kitchen can be a revelation, often leading to new family favorites."
Cowan says the best way to start getting creative with pork chops is to change up the preparation method. For example, try stuffing a whole chop with savory fillings or slicing and cubing it to use as an ingredient in a less traditional recipe – two less commonly explored methods, according to the survey(2). Or, try a new type of chop. Though the survey showed that loin chops are the most frequently prepared(3), there are a range of pork chop varieties that should each have a place in your dinnertime rotation. For example:
- BONE-IN RIB CHOPS – When sliced thick, a large eye of loin meat makes these the perfect chop for stuffing. Try Cowan's Grilled Pork Chops with Chorizo, Dates and Manchego Stuffing. Brined, stuffed and grilled, the sweet and savory flavors take cues from the La Mancha region of Spain.
- TOP LOIN CHOPS – Also called Center Cut Chops or America's Cut (when sliced to 1 1/4" thickness), these boneless chops are meaty and lean. Discover them in Chef Cowan's Chinese Five-Spice-and-Maple-Glazed Pork Chops, which feature the classically Asian balance of pungent, bitter, sweet, sour and salty flavors.
- BLADE CHOPS– One of the well-marbled of pork chop cuts, these are often butterflied and called "Pork Loin Country-Style Ribs." Cowan took advantage of the blade chops' bold flavor when developing his Moroccan-Inspired Country-Style Rib Ragu with Couscous Cakes.
New varieties, techniques and flavors are inspired ways to jazz up your meal routine, but what's Cowan's number one tip for dishing up irresistible pork? "Don't overcook it!" he says. The survey(4) found that 65 percent of pork-loving Americans are still learning that the key to juicy, tender and flavorful chops is to cook them to the USDA-recommended temperature of 145 degrees F, followed by a three-minute rest. This new recommendation delivers juicy and tender pork that's more delicious than ever. The recently updated recommendation reflects advances in both food safety and nutritional content, as pork is now on average 16 percent leaner than it was 21 years ago.
One-Stop Chopping Online
For additional inspiration this summer, follow @AllAboutPork on Twitter, "like" us at Facebook.com/PorkBeinspired and find us on Pinterest.com/PorkBeinspired to unleash the power of the pork chop and for a chance to win pork prizes during the month of May.
About the National Pork Board
The National Pork Board has responsibility for Checkoff-funded research, promotion and consumer information projects and for communicating with pork producers and the public. Through a legislative national Pork Checkoff, pork producers invest $0.40 for each $100 value of hogs sold. The Pork Checkoff funds national and state programs in advertising, consumer information, retail and foodservice marketing, export market promotion, production improvement, technology, swine health, pork safety and environmental management.
(1, 2, 3, 4) The "However You Chop It?" survey was conducted by Wakefield Research (www.wakefieldresearch.com) between March 8th, 2012 and March 14th, 2012. For this research, 1,000 interviews were fielded among nationally representative Americans ages 18 and older using random-digit telephone dialing. Quotas have been set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the U.S. adult population 18 and older. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation.
SOURCE The National Pork Board