Gastronomy 101, a blog about food and Los Angeles restaurants

INFO: How to Cook Pork Chops

Ha ha! I was looking up some stuff on pork chops and found this "recipe" by James Beard from 1956:


Buy thick chops from the loin — about 1 1/2 inches thick — and allow two chops per person.


pork chops
salt and pepper

METHOD: Cook them slowly, turning often and season to taste with salt and pepper as they cook. If they tend to curl, gash the fat around the edges. Serve with broiled apple slices and old-fashioned johnny cake with plenty of butter."

Um ... okay. That's helpful. The way to cook pork chops is to ... cook them. Thanks.

It's actually a really interesting comparison on recipes of yore with recipes now. A lot of my recipes in my American Woman cookbook are the same way. Reading them, it's easy to see why we have to always be reminded these days that recipes are suggestions and guidelines, not directives to be adhered to blindly. But these days we're so used to being told what cooking method, what temperature, what length of time, etc. that once those crutches are taken away from us, we're like "what? what does this MEAN? HELP ME!" And then we put the pork chops back in the freezer and order a pizza.

One immediately looks at this recipe and wonders "but HOW are we cooking them?" Based on the directions, and what I know about cooking pork chops, this is probably a recipe for cooking pork chops in a skillet. If so, you would cook it over medium-high heat. Other than that, just eyeball it until it's browned on both sides.

I'm also going to comment that Mr. Beard--not known for his svelte physique--is giving a serving size that is both twice as thick a chop as recommended nowadays, and twice as many chops per person as is recommended nowadays. So ... um ... unless you have a super hearty appetite and a fantastic metabolism, you may want to cut down on your portion. Also add a little oil to the skillet unless you can see that you have a fatty chop, as cuts these days are leaner than back in 1956 when this recipe was created.

A 1.5-inch chop will probably take about 15-20 minutes to cook, and a 3/4-inch chop will probably take 6-10 minutes.

If you want a few minutes of amusement, go read the commentary on the above recipe at Epicurious. There are some real wiseacres out there, and it is awesome.

I think this is my favorite: "Interesting mix of flavors. I've never paired salt and pepper together before. Look forward to trying this in other recipes." It's like one of those stupid first-grader jokes. It's really obvious but somehow it makes me laugh every time.

P.S. My information about pork comes from the National Pork Council, and their prestigious publication, the Daily Pork, with exclusive pork coverage.



I would feel about attempting this recipe like you do when faced with baking. I'm breaking out in a sweat, I must go lie down for a while.

Thanks--that was fun. I LOVE reading the snarkery on Epicurious. Sometimes I make myself a big tub of popcorn and sit down and scroll through the archives. Thank God I found an easy popcorn recipe on that site.

said by Acme Instant Food at 9:20 AM Delete

Yes, I just noticed that they have all of these old recipes on there ... I think I'm going to have to explore some more.

said by KT at 9:26 AM Delete

MMMmmm, pork. So easy to ruin, so good if done right (bad jew! bad jew!). How about some home-made applesauce?

said by Jeremy at 11:43 AM Delete

Already done, my friend:

How to Make Applesauce.

said by KT at 11:52 AM Delete

hey, wait a second, i thought you told me you weren't a pork chop gal?

what gives (to use steve baumgartner's parlance)?

said by dhp at 12:38 PM Delete

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