A word about pork: Although pork is banned in some countries due to cultural or religious prohibitions, it remains the most consumed red meat in the world.
Last year, the Commonwealth of Kentucky had about 435,000 pig animals, that is, the pig or our friend, the pig. Last year, pork production in the Commonwealth accounted for $128 million in cash receipts, or about 2.4% of Kentucky’s farm income.
Kentucky is 18th in the nation for pork production, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service and Economic Research Commission. In the country, the average American consumes about 50 pounds of pork per year.
Pork is considered a nutrient-dense food and an excellent source of protein, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, zinc and potassium. Many cuts of pork are considered lean cuts, meaning low in saturated and unsaturated fat, according to the Kentucky Food and Farm website.
This month, I’d like to cover a Louisville restaurant staple. That particular dish is the pork chop prepared at the iconic Jack Fry’s restaurant.
I can’t say exactly when this dish arrived at Jack Fry’s, but I became familiar with this dish around 2010, during my internship at Jack Fry’s under Executive Chef Shawn Ward. Shawn let Jack move on to other businesses, but the pork chop remained.
The fact that a specific dish has remained on the menu for no less than a dozen years says a lot about the quality of the food. Jack Fry’s Pork Chop is a herb breaded chop with a garnish of potatoes, asparagus, mushrooms and other delicacies finished with a vermouth sauce. The recipe for the original pork chop was collected from Los Angeles Times.
Jack Fry Pork Chop
Rosemary Dijon Butter
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, softened
1½ teaspoons fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Run your knife through the fresh rosemary to create a hash of herbs. Mix the butter, rosemary and mustard well in a food processor. Reserve 2 tablespoons and reserve the rest for another use.
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1½ teaspoons chopped fresh sage
Combine breadcrumbs and chopped fresh herbs in a food processor. Season the breadcrumbs with salt and pepper and stir until the mixture is evenly dispersed.
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
5 new potatoes, quartered and blanched
1 tablespoon of sugar
1½ onions, diced
1 cup chicken broth
16 garlic cloves, peeled and blanched
¾ pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
4 slices applewood smoked bacon, diced
8 asparagus spears, blanched and cut into 2-inch pieces
Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and cook potatoes, stirring often, until browned and cooked through, 12 to 13 minutes. Put aside.
In a large skillet, heat another teaspoon of oil. Add the sugar and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar turns dark brown like syrup. Add onions and chicken broth and cook until liquid is reduced by half, eight minutes.
Meanwhile, in the same skillet used for the potatoes, heat ½ teaspoon oil over medium-high heat and add the garlic. Bake until golden brown, 2½ minutes; remove the garlic and set aside.
Add the remaining ½ teaspoon of oil to the pan and cook the mushrooms over medium-high heat until tender, three minutes. Remove and reserve. Cook bacon in skillet over medium-high heat, stirring, until crisp, 5 minutes. Drain on paper towel, reserving bacon fat in skillet; set skillet aside for vermouth sauce.
Combine potatoes, onion and broth mix, garlic, mushrooms, bacon and asparagus in a large bowl. Set aside and keep warm.
1 tablespoon reserved bacon grease
½ cup dry vermouth
3 cups of chicken broth
1½ teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
Remove all but 1 tablespoon of bacon grease from the pan and set aside. Add the vermouth and cook over high heat, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until the vermouth is reduced by half, 5 minutes. Add chicken broth and rosemary and cook until liquid is reduced by half, 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4 (12 ounces) center-cut pork chops
1½ tablespoons Dijon breadcrumbs
¾ teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of pepper
1 tablespoon reserved bacon grease
2 tablespoons rosemary Dijon butter
Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Brush pork chops on both sides with Dijon mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Coat the pork chops with the breadcrumbs.
Heat the bacon fat in a large skillet over high heat and sear the chops on both sides, working in two batches, if necessary, 1 ½ minutes per side. Place on jelly roll pan and bake until internal temperature of chops reaches 160 degrees, 30 minutes.
Place the pork chops on serving plates and garnish with the hot vegetables. Add the Dijon butter to the rosemary, tilting and swirling the pan so that the butter melts and the sauce thickens. Pour over chops and serve.
The following are the steps and modifications for you to do it yourself.
Jack’s pork chop is finished with a vermouth sauce. Since we make this chop in a high school setting, we developed an alcohol-free sauce that works well with pork. Our sauce is a variation of the classic French butter sauce Beurre Blanc. Ours is an apple cider butter sauce.
If you want to use our sauce, the first step is to start reducing the apple cider for our white butter. Begin the cider reduction process and move on to the breadcrumbs as the reduction takes place. Don’t forget the cider, it can burn if left on the stove for too long.
White Butter Apple Cider
1 liter fresh apple cider or unfiltered apple juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
A sprig of rosemary
½ cup (one stick) unsalted butter, cut into bite size pieces about the size of a teaspoon OR use remaining Rosemary Dijon Butter with fresh butter to make ½ cup.
Salt and pepper to taste
Place the rosemary in the apple cider and move over medium heat. Cook and stir the cider until it is reduced to about ½ cup. The cider will become syrupy.
Add the apple cider vinegar and continue to reduce the mixture to ½ cup.
Allow the cider mixture to cool to around 100-105 degrees. Once cool enough, drop knobs of butter into the cider mixture while stirring the pan. Continue adding knobs of butter as soon as the last one has emulsified in the mixture. If the sauce is too hot, the butter will melt (resulting in a separation of the base and the fat) and will not emulsify. The sauce should be light in color, smooth and rich. Adjust the final sauce with salt and pepper.
Create the herb batter per the instructions above
Create the compound butter as shown above making sure to use fresh herbs. Run your knife through the rosemary before adding it to the processor. Leave the butter at room temperature
Create the filling for the pork chops.
In the original recipe, potatoes, bacon and garlic are fried. Our steps are to place these ingredients in the oven. Using the oven frees your attention and is more forgiving of mistakes than frying.
Preheat your oven to around 425 degrees.
Medium dice the potatoes, ½ inch cube.
Toss diced potatoes with oil, salt and pepper.
Place the oiled and seasoned potatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast the potatoes until golden brown and delicious, about 20 minutes.
While the oven is hot
Arrange the bacon slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast them with the potatoes. We will dice the bacon after it is cooked.
Roast the bacon until firm but not quite crispy.
Let the bacon cool enough to handle, then slice or dice the bacon.
Place the garlic in your smallest ovenproof cooking container.
Pour enough vegetable oil or olive oil to cover the garlic cloves.
Roast the garlic until it turns light brown and softens.
Reserve the cooked garlic until serving. The oil is now flavored with garlic and can be stored for later use.
Cook the sugar to create a caramel. Add the diced onions and broth and cook until the broth is reduced by half as described in the original recipe.
Cook the mushrooms in a quantity of oil (or the reserved garlic oil) in a large skillet. The pan should be large enough to allow the mushrooms not to pile up or clump together. This allows the water that will be drawn from the mushrooms to evaporate and not steam the mushroom.
Cut the asparagus into 1½ to 2 inch lengths and blanch in boiling water for about 45 seconds.
Combine all filling ingredients (potatoes, onions, bacon, mushrooms and asparagus) except the garlic and stir to combine. Once all the other ingredients are mixed, add the garlic and gently stir in the garlic, being careful not to crush the garlic.
Keep the topping mixture warm until serving.
Prepare the pork chops
Spread each side of each pork chop with about ½ teaspoon softened compound butter. Coat buttered pork chops with herb breadcrumbs and leave breaded pork chops at room temperature.
Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the pork chops without crowding the pan.
Let the pork chops sit until the breading is golden brown. Playing with the chops can cause the breading to fall off and will also delay the browning process.
Once the pork chops are browned on both sides, place them on a baking sheet. When all the pork chops have been browned, roast the pork chops to an internal temperature of 125 degrees in a 425 degree oven. Top the pork chops with the topping mixture and complete the roasting process, allowing the pork chops to reach an internal temperature of 135 degrees.
Plate the pork chop taking care not to disturb the garnish and complete the plate with the application of the sauce.