A platter of thin pork chops. No steak knife required. Grilled lemons and a sprinkling of capers give them the checkered pants treatment.
Just when we thought we were having some fun, we’d biggied ourselves to near doom. Biggie houses, biggie mortgages, biggie cars, biggie stores, biggie portions, biggie divorces, biggie waistlines. We got huge! The crash came not an ounce too soon. Let’s re-evaluate the portions of life.
Consider the pork chop. This reasonable weeknight dinner regular got biggied into a bionic double thick steakhouse chop. Here’s the problem. Reaching a safe temperature near the bone without overcooking the meaty middle is a challenge even when you brine it. Thick, bland slabs of lean boneless loin are no better. They look fancy but get ready to chew.
It’s time for the Prius of pork. We call them fork chops. Sensible thin-cut pork chops and loin cutlets don’t seem so common anymore. In fact, they’re spectacular for cooking and eating. Ready in minutes on a hot grill, you’ll have a great smoky flavor and moist, tender meat without fretting over the internal temperature. Pile them on a platter so everyone can enjoy only what they want.
No one gets overwhelmed by the biggie chop. There are two easy ways to go. Grab a pack of thin cut pork chops (usually about a ½ inch thick) or opt for the already thinly sliced boneless pork loin cutlets. The pork chop you can leave as is. The loin cutlets you can pound out even thinner a la scaloppini. Either way, we usually find it cheaper and easier to buy already cut pieces than the pricier whole pork tenderloin that requires cutting and pounding. But, you can do that too.
These pork chops are cut nice and thin. No pounding required. The platter shows the pork cutlets right from the package. They’re nice and thin, too. You can pound them down a little if you want them extra thin.”
Pork is the perfect transition meat for October. The bugs are gone, the evenings cool, and we’re all still enjoying the backyard grill. Summer pork chops tasted great with corn on the cob, baked beans, and potato salad. This month and into the late fall they take to winter squash and all the roasted root vegetables. Swap your fresh tomato mozzarella salad for greens with crumbled blue cheese, toasted pecans, and apples. Everything goes with pork. Salt and pepper are all you really need when grilling the pork, but it’s certainly acceptable practice to experiment with dry rubs and your “secret” seasoning blends. Pass your own little special sauce at the table, too. Plus, thin pork cuts offer the double bonus of both grill-ahead convenience and make a killer breakfast or brunch the next day. Gently reheat them in foil in a low oven or pop a couple of cutlets in the toaster oven and eat them with crusty bread or toast. Believe us, they’re just as good later as the minute they came off the grill.
- Pork Chops:
- About 3 pounds thin cut pork chops or thin pork loin cutlets.
- Olive oil or vegetable oil
- Salt and pepper
- Piccata Sauce and Grilled Lemon Slices:
- 2 lemons, thinly sliced
- Olive oil
- Salt, to taste
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 chicken bouillon cube, crushed
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Chopped fresh parsley, optional
- Capers, optional
To flatten the loin into paillards, place slices one at a time on a large cutting board and cover with a layer of plastic wrap.
Pound with a flat meat mallet or the bottom of a heavy saucepan until the paillards are about 1/4-inch thick.
Season with salt and pepper and an optional drizzle of olive oil.
Grill the meat over high heat about a couple of minutes per side.
Pile on a warm platter and serve. These may be grilled in advance.
To re-warm, wrap in foil and place in a low oven.
Here’s a little Cheater Chef sauce to take your pork into classic Italian territory:
After grilling the pork chops, drizzle the lemon slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
Grill about 1 minute per side or until lightly charred. Scatter over the platter of pork chops. They’re great over chicken, too.
Melt the butter in a small skillet.
Stir in garlic and cook over medium heat until softened about 2 minutes.
Stir in bouillon cube, water, wine, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, simmer, and reduce by half.
Drizzle over the warm meat and grilled lemons. Garnish with parsley and/or capers.