Sous vide pork chops

After the 64-degree eggs, the next logical step in my exploration of sous vide was to cook a tender cut of meat. Although the effects of long-time, low-temperature (LTLT) sous vide cooking are most dramatic on cuts with lots of connective tissue, they aren’t a good choice for instant gratification.

I happened to have some leftover sauce in my fridge from a pork roast, so I decided on pork loin chops. Modern pork loin from conventional breeds suffers from two limitations: it has no connective tissue to offer the unctuousness of gelatin, and it has too little fat to keep the meat moist as it cooks. I figured if any cut could benefit from perfectly even cooking, it would be pork loin.

Using the information from Douglas Baldwin’s Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking site, I brined the chops for an hour in a solution of 7% salt and 3% white sugar, with a couple of cloves and a bay leaf for flavour, before vacuum sealing them and putting them in the water bath at 141°F for an hour. Once they were cooked, I removed them from their bags, patted them dry, and seared them in a preheated cast-iron skillet.

How did they turn out? To be honest, I was disappointed. They were juicier than some pork chops I’ve had in the past, but it wasn’t clear whether that was from the cooking method or the brine. Also, because I was nervous about overcooking the chops while searing, which would have defeated the purpose of cooking them sous vide, I was pretty hesitant, and didn’t get much of a crust. Fortunately, I had that leftover sauce to cover them up.

I’d like to be able to point to the parameters I’d change next time: different times and temperatures for brining and cooking, different thicknesses to offer some insurance against over-searing. But I was sufficiently unimpressed with the results that I doubt I’ll be trying pork chops again any time soon. Besides, I have a short attention span and a long list of other cuts I want to try.

Still, if you’ve had better luck with pork loin chops, I’d love to hear how you did it!

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook Email

7 Responses to “Sous vide pork chops”