Now, let me talk to you about pork chops. Vegans and vegetarians please look away now. This is a serious subject. As most everyone knows, a pork chop cooked to perfection is about as perfect as eating gets. I have lived most of my adult life with people telling me that tender pork is the result of good cooking, nothing to do with the quality of the meat. Three minutes on each side. Six minutes on each side. No, cook it long and slow. No, no! Braise it in stock for goodness knows how long.
Well I can declare that that is all bollocks! (Sorry Mum.) It has absolutely nothing to do with short cooking or long cooking or roasting or braising. It has everything to do with the quality of the pork! It doesn’t matter how I cook it, Maltese pork is UN_BE_LIEV_ABLE!!! It is moist and tasty and tender beyond all the laws of science and I bow down and give thanks to the great Pork Gods who give us such bounty. And I realise too that as I am writing this, no matter what a great writer I may think I am, I cannot begin to convey to you the food heaven I am talking about. There is only one way you can understand it; come to Malta and try it for yourself. They say that in life you should find one thing you are good at and stick to it. This is a brilliant example of that. Malta does the world’s best pork. But don’t expect great local beef. Or lamb. Just pork.
1 pork chop
Now is the time for me to tell you how to cook it. No arguments please! Take your pork chop and wash it well. This isn’t about getting it clean. This is about washing away any annoying bone fragments that may be lingering after the butchering process. Dry it with kitchen paper. Lay it in an oven proof dish (I think a glass dish works well). Season it generously with sea salt and black pepper. And then smother it with smoked paprika. Use your finger tips to spread the seasoning around. The pork chop should look a deep ruby red at this stage. Pick it up and splash a little olive oil in the dish then place the chop spice side down in the dish and move it around to spread the oil about. Season the new top side with sea salt, pepper and smoked paprika and spread that around with your fingertips too. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top.
These instructions may seem overly detailed but let me say; you are preparing the most amazing meat dish on the planet, bar none. This last bit is easy. Bake the chop in the oven at 200° for 15 minutes. Turn it over and baste it and turn the oven down to 180° and bake it for a further 10 minutes. Turn it over and baste it and bake it for a further eight minutes. These times are approximate; they all depend on the thickness of your pork chop and the efficiency of your oven. And last but definitely not least, rest it at the end. That is, once it is cooked, take it out of the oven, but leave it in the roasting dish, cover it in foil and leave it for ten minutes. And then the best bit of all. Eat it!
As you may have gathered from all of this, I had a pork chop for dinner on Saturday! And although I spend a lot of my time eating fruit and vegetables, just at this moment I feel like king of the Atkins Diet hill.
And I have decided that every year henceforth the 26th September will be known as International Pork Chop Day.