Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Pork Porterhouse Chop with Garlic Sage Compound Butter

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a delicious unnamed pork part I enjoyed from Cook Family Butcher Shop. I've since written a post on the new shop for my Close to the Source blog on Edible San Diego. The butchers there kindly gave me a few cuts of meat to take home and try, including a thick porterhouse chop--something I've never had.

These chops are huge; mine was over a pound in weight, including richly marbled meat and a thick outer cap of fat all united by a T-bone. That's something you don't usually find in your typical supermarket meat department, which touts pork as "the other white meat," meaning lean to the point of no flavor. I'll send you to my Close to the Source post for more about the shop and the Cook Pigs Ranch philosophy of raising pigs to extract the most flavor from them in a humane way.

Right now, I just want to take you through the process of cooking a cut of meat you may not be familiar with. And the process is extremely easy. All I did was grill it on my stove top (no way was I going out on a rainy night to use my outdoor grill). It begins with a 24-hour brining. I used a simple brine inspired by Chef Anne Burrell that includes kosher salt, fresh sage leaves, crushed garlic, sugar, and a bay leaf mixed in a quart of water. Stir it up, add the chop, cover, and refrigerate.

At some point between brining and cooking you can make a simple compound butter to add even more richness to the dish. Because my brine included sage leaves from my garden, I stuck with the flavor profile and made a compound butter with minced sage leaves, diced red onion, garlic, and sea salt. All you need to do is leave the a stick of butter out until it's room temperature, slice off about a tablespoon and melt that in a small saucepan.

Add the sage, red onion, garlic, and sea salt, and saute gently until it's just cooked through, about five minutes. Remove from the heat and place the mixture in a small bowl. Let cool for 15 to 20 minutes. Then slice the rest of the butter, add the slices to the bowl, and thoroughly mix all the ingredients with a fork. Pull out a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap and place the butter mixture on it. Shape into a small log about an inch thick. Then fold the paper or wrap over the log and roll it a bit until it's evenly shaped. Then fold up the rest around the log and refrigerate it at least an hour so that it's firm (you can also make it a couple of days before). Remove it from the refrigerator before you begin cooking the chop.

When you plan to cook the chop, remove it from the brine and pat it down to remove the excess moisture. I also trimmed off much of the fat cap since it would only create even more of a smoky oil splattering mess than I already expected from stove-top grilling. Slather the chop in olive oil and, as Burrell suggests, sprinkle the meat with crushed red pepper flakes. Heat a cast iron skillet and when it's good and hot, place the chop in the skillet and cover with a splatter guard.

Cook for four to five minutes on each side until the internal temperature is about 145° and then hold the chop vertically with a pair of tongs to grill the edge of fat. That'll take about a minute. Remove from the skillet and let it rest. You should have a chop cooked medium rare.

For this meal I decided to include farro, leftovers from a batch I had made the day before, and some beautiful spicy red mustard that I got from Coral Tree Farm in Encinitas. I broke up the mustard leaves and quickly sauteed them in the skillet in which I'd cooked the chop. One less pan to cook and extra flavor for the mustard! 

Now, you're almost ready to eat. Cut the meat off the bone and slice it. (Save the bone to gnaw on secretly later.) Place the slices on the cooked mustard and top with a couple of slices of the compound butter. Serve with warm farro.

Happy New Year!

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