Updated: Jan 20, 2020
For us, the best and usually only way to cook a delicious hunk of meat is in a piping hot Cast Iron pan. Our collection of Cast Irons includes 2 large, a medium, a small and 2 grill pans. then there's the Army of Le Creuset. Well talk pans and care in a later post (probably several posts really), but I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a well cared for and seasoned Cast Iron for cooking pretty much everything, but especially meat.
So, the best pork chop you'll ever eat....that's what your here for after all. You are going to start with the highest quality meat available to you, and there is no wiggle room on this. Store meat 'aint got nothin' on fresh, happily raised with love, meat from a local small farmer. We happen to get ours from our friends and neighbors up the road, Stenvick Farm. Laura raises her pigs on pasture with no antibiotics, corn, or soy. They are loved from birth to slaughter, and if you dont believe me, you can follow them on IG or Facebook to see for yourself. LOVE is and always will be your main and most important ingredient in food.
Next, start heating up your well seasoned Cast Iron pan.
While your pan is heating its time to pull some more local ingredients out of your pantry. Im a big fan of buying local when I can, whether its food or other things. In our kitchen we have 2 staples we are rarely without. Olive Oil and Salt. I've found a couple of amazing local businesses to support since we use these ingredients so much and you can purchase the same ones, or even better, find sources local to your community. (I'll link to mine as we go).
We season liberally but simply with salt and oil only. A little secret when seasoning your meat is to use salt before oil, giving the meat a chance to absorb some of that flavor before you put a layer of oil between the meat and your seasoning. This gives your meat and salt a chance to marry and I promise, you will taste the difference.
We chose to use "Old Coast" Sea Salt from Big Sur Salts because it has hints of sage, thyme and sour orange, mixed with their locally harvested Sea Salt. I love that we have access to a salt that is from the ocean right in the front yard of our community, and made by another local food artisan. In my mind, it doesn't get better than that and is the perfect compliment to locally raised pork (or any food). I'm a huge fan of this particular brand not only because it is local and fresh, but because of its quality. Its "saltier" than most salts you'll taste and full of minerals from our beautiful Pacific Ocean. Make sure whenever you try a new salt to taste it before you cook. You may choose to adjust the amount you would normally use.
Once your pan is ready, pour your Olive Oil over the meat and gently massage it into the meat. We use only California Extra Virgin Olive Oil when we cook with the COOC certification. The COOC (California Olive Oil Council) put California grown oils through a rigorous testing process that ensures you are only receiving THE BEST Olive Oil possible. No chemicals, no filler oils and no gimmicks. You will taste the difference and your body will most definitely thank you. There are many wonderful Olive Oil purveyors throughout California, however we have teamed up with our personal favorite, The Quail and Olive because they are local and we trust their quality and standards (For this recipe, we used their Taggiasaca).
At this point, your pan is ready. Your meat is ready. Its time to combine.
Put your well seasoned and oiled meat into your DRY, hot pan, and step away.
At this point you are really going to have to resist the urge to flip and turn and peek at your meat. Its time to trust the process. Get out your handy meat thermometer (you dont ever want to be without one).
Now that your meat is in the pan, you are going to watch it. You are looking to see the color of the meat changing to a cooked color, and for that color to start to come up the side of the meat. You will also be looking out for the fat to start to render. This will look like little bits of clear liquid coming off the side of the meat and starting to bubble, and light whisps of smoke.
As soon as you think its ready, give it another minute.
Now its time to flip the meat. You want to lift gently with tongs. There should be ZERO resistance. If the meat resists, its not ready. Let it go back to the pan and continue cooking. Check again in a few minutes.
Once it is ready, flip your meat over to the other side now, and as Aaron always says "Where it lands is where it stands", so make sure you know where your placing your meat, and don't touch it.
At this point you are checking your doneness by inserting the thermometer in the middle of the meat, away from bones. You want the tip of the thermometer to stop in the middle of the cut. You DO NOT want the tip of the thermometer to go all the way down. (For this we recommend digital thermometers because are easy to read. You can pick one up quickly and affordably on Amazon). You want the temp to read a MINIMAL 145 degrees, which is a medium rare consistency.
Once meat is cooked to your desired doneness, remove it from the pan with tongs and place onto a meat safe cutting board. DO NOT CUT IT. Allow to rest for 7-8 minutes. This means leave it alone. Walk away. NO TEST CUTS. You want the meat to rest gently. Cutting early will drain your meat of juices and you will end up with a dry, unflavorful piece of meat.
Now it is ready to be served.
Plate your meat with your favorite side dish, or alone, and enjoy!