Pork chops are commonly eaten here in Ireland and when handled correctly, they contain heaps of flavour.
Our Back to Basics series takes a look at some common ingredients to help our readers make the most of the great produce that we have access to here in Ireland. Previously we looked at scallops, housekeeper’s cut of beef, chicken thighs, and pork belly; today we're looking at pork chops.
What are pork chops?
Pork is the second most commonly eaten meat in Ireland, with around 45,000 tonnes consumed annually, which works out at around 10kg per person. In the United States, pork chops account for 10 per cent of all pork products consumed nationally. Pork chops are the equivalent of beef steaks, meaning they are some of the most prized parts of the pig. On average, pork chops are a great source of protein, with just 100g providing around 48 per cent of your recommended daily allowance.
There are several different types of pork chop available, all of which come from the loin of the pig:
- Rib chop or rib-eye chop: Rib chops are cut from the lower end of the loin and are similar to a steak. There is usually a band of fat around each chop, so trim the excess before cooking
- Centre-cut loin chop or top loin chop: This type of pork chop comes from the centre of the loin, meaning it is made of both loin and tenderloin sections. This cut is known as the porterhouse of pork.
- Loin chop: This chop mostly comes from the pork loin, with little to no tenderloin included. it benefits from quick, hot cooking to keep it moist.
- Sirloin chop: Similar to a sirloin steak, this type of chop comes from just below the loin and can be difficult to keep moist during cooking. This type of chop is great for slow-cooking and braising.
- Boneless loin chop: This lean cut of pork is basically the loin chop with the bone and fat removed. As this type of chop is so lean, it needs to be cooked quickly to prevent it from drying out.
How to cook pork chops
Pork chops are notorious for drying out so it's important to make sure to cook them with care. For most, this will mean quick cooking on a very hot pan. Depending on thickness, we would recommend placing a chop in a hot pan with a tablespoon of oil and cooking for three to four minutes, before flipping the chop and placing the pan in the oven to cook for a further six to seven minutes.
Need some recipe inspiration? One of our favourite pork chop recipes comes from Clodagh McKenna and combines lots of classic Irish ingredients. Try her soda-breaded bacon chops with honey and whiskey dip here.