Pork Chop with Anchovy dressing
George Ryle - Garden Museum, London
There are very few things better than a good pork chop. This is a fact. A chop that is well aged, well cut, well cooked and from a very well breed pig is enough to have me salivating as I write this and if you've never had one like this then prepare to have your life changed! Fortunately, the good people at Swaledale and the farmers they work with have taken care of three of those important ingredients to a great chop for you. It's now up to you to cook it. Here are a couple of tips and a very delicious anchovy dressing to help you to do the chop justice.
For the dressing you will need:
3 cloves of garlic
6 fillets of salted anchovies
1 tablespoon of finely chopped rosemary
150 ml of extra virgin olive oil
Before we begin, pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees centigrade.
One of the keys to cooking a good pork chop is going to come from the crisping of the skin and rendering of the fat, and for this you will need to display a little patience. First give the chop a good season with salt and then place it in a pan, stood up, with the skin/rind in contact with the pan. Put the pan on the stove on a low heat and very gently allow the fat to render and the skin to slowly begin to crisp, eventually achieving the crackling that we all want from pork. Obviously, the rind on a pork chop is not flat as it curves around the lower part of the chop, so you will need to lean the chop against the lip of the pan to crackle the lower part of the rind.
If the heat in the pan is too hot during this stage then you may find that the skin becomes burnt before it is really crackling, hence the need for patience. Once you are happy with the crackling you can turn the heat up and begin to caramelise the rest of the chop. Use a pair of tongs to turn the chop onto one of its sides and let it fry in its own fat. Turn it every 30 seconds or so - adding a knob of butter to the pan after the first turn on each side - until both sides are beautifully caramelised.
At this stage you want to baste the chop with all that lovely fat and then transfer the whole pan to the oven. If your pan doesn't have an ovenproof handle, then carefully (hot fat!) place the chop in an oven tray and tip over the hot fat. Cook in the oven for 2-4 minutes, depending on the chop. The best way to test if it is cooked is to insert the tip of a small knife right into the centre of the chop, leave it there for 10 seconds and then remove it and place it on your lip.
For a lovely medium pork chop the tip of the knife should be warm but not hot and the middle of the chop should still have some give when squeezed between you thumb and index finger. If the tip of the knife is still cold when tested then you should give the chop an extra 1-2 minutes in the oven. Remove the chop from the hot pan, as it will carry on cooking otherwise, an allow it to rest somewhere for at least 10 minutes.
The dressing is really simple and brimming with flavour. To make it simply peel and thinly slice the garlic and add it, with the olive oil, to a small saucepan and allow it to cook slowly on a low heat. After about 3 minutes, as the garlic is beginning to soften, add the anchovies and the rosemary and continue to cook, still over a low heat, for a further 5 minutes. The anchovies will sort of disintegrate and the smell will be incredible.
To carve the pork chop, first remove the crackling. Then stand the chop up right on the board and then insert your knife as close as you can to the rib bone. Run your knife down the chop, as close as you can to the bone. When the bone goes at a right angle, at the bottom of the chop, simply re-angle the knife, keeping it as close to the bone as possible. Once the bone is removed, slice the meat across the chop to you desired thickness, I reckon about the width of your little finger.
Mix the dressing well and spoon over the sliced up chop.
Serve with whatever vegetables you have/feel in the mood for. I would point you in the direction of courgettes and fennel, roasted together with olive oil and garlic and a green salad with a mustardy vinaigrette on the side.